Urban Futures – Cultural Pasts Conference


Cultural Heritage.


A track led by AMPS & Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

Track Call

We live in an age in which heritage is valued internationally at the same time it is threatened by globalization and local forces of various kinds: development, conflict and abandonment to name but a few. It is also an age in which the heritage industry is seen as a leading economic motor for many countries and regions reliant on tourism and the cultural sector for continued survival and prosperity. Within this context, a city such as that which hosts this event, Barcelona, could be seen as a paradigmatic case study.

Celebrated as one of Europe’s leading cultural centers and a site of significant 20C art and architectural history, the cultural and tourist sectors are central to its current financial success. However, those self-same forces produce issues of gentrification, increasing housing costs and, in terms of access to services, competition between locals and tourist dollars.

In addressing questions of culture, history and heritage as they impact communities and local policy making, this strand of the conference seeks to discuss both the positive and sometimes negative effects of the heritage sector. As a result, it seeks contributions from art historians engaged in the research and conservation of artefacts traditionally understood. It also welcomes the insights of archeologists working in the ‘living’ environments of towns and cities globally. It calls for contributions from architectural and urban historians investigating the history of specific buildings or regions.

Further to this however, it also seeks the perspectives of social historians, community historians and policy theorists engaged in analyzing the effects of the heritage sector on questions such as displacement, gentrification and economic development. Within this framework, for example, it asks whether initiatives such as UNESCO designations need reconsideration to better balance the needs of the present with those of the past. and whether conservation policy can better capture expanded definitions of heritage as equally social, cultural and material.


Key Words:

Heritage, Social History, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Urban Studies, Art, Architecture.


Part of the Urban Futures – Cultural Pasts Conference

Critical Heritage:

This track develops themes central to the AMPS Critical Heritage research theme.

This theme has been developed by AMPS to cover a range of issues related to heritage from both material and social perspective. It sits across two broader AMPS research programmes:  Critical Futures and Mediated Cities.



The AMPS Critical Heritage theme covers a diverse range of issues connected to questions of heritage, conservation and preservation understood through the lenses of tangible, intangible and digital heritage studies.

Under these guises it is interested in built heritage traditionally understood in terms of architecture and cities, art objects and craft products. Within this framework it is concerned with questions of the historical interpretation, conservation and preservation of material artefacts> Placing this range of issues at the centre of its work, it is a set of questions that have been explored by a diverse range of AMPS collaborators from eth fields of art, architectural and urban history.

Equally, the Critical Heritage theme supports research into issue of intangible heritage. Consequently, it draws attention to questions of cultural traditions, local myths, regional folklore, and the social, economic and community questions that arise when dealing with heritage – from gentrification, to the growth of local economies that can result from heritage policies such as UNESCO designations and national level heritage listings etc.

Finally, it engages deeply in issues of digital heritage, with emphasis placed on the role of technologies in the digital reconstruction of artefacts and the creation of hybrid digital and physical experiences of heritage. In this guide, it has supported research into the use of virtual realities, digital modelmaking and the use of digital apps in the creation of augmented reality experiences for historic sites, museums and exhibitions internatioanlly.

Examples of the conference and books developed around these themes include:

Prague-Heritages, Czech Republic, 2023 | Intangible Heritages, United Kingdom, 2022 | Representing Pasts – Visioning Futures, Virtual, 2022 | Connections: Exploring Heritage, Architecture & Cities, United Kingdom, 2020 | Urban Histories in Practice: Morphologies & Memory. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021 | Narrating the City – Filmic Representations of City and Architecture, Intellect Books, 2019 | Visioning Technologies – The Architectures of Sight. Routledge, 2016.


Urban Futures – Cultural Pasts Conference

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Other Tracks: Cultural Heritage – Policy, People & Place >>Cultural Pasts – The Tangible, Intangible & the Digital >>

Main Image: Pia Fuhst