Culture in Crisis: Conference Announcement and Call for Papers

March 21, 2018

CULTURE IN CRISIS: Cross-Disciplinary Learning Opportunities for Natural and Cultural Heritage Preservation

University of Pretoria, South Africa
17th-21st October 2018

Conference Outline

The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Yale’s Global Cultural Heritage Initiatives and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, are preparing for a major international conference, to be held in fall 2018 in collaboration with University of Pretoria, South Africa, with a unique focus on the benefits of both Wildlife and Heritage Conservation.

The conference will serve to highlight the value of these two parallel branches of conservation; demonstrating that through their adoption successful sustainable development on national and international level can be achieved.

We understand the profound and long-lasting impact of both environmental and cultural heritage loss on communities, and the contrasting positive role that nature conservation and heritage protection can have in rebuilding and recovering these areas following war or disaster. As such, the conference aims to stimulate a cross-disciplinary approach; raising public awareness and working with organizations from a variety of backgrounds to take a holistic approach to the protection of heritage in its diverse forms.

The conference will reflect on the experiences in conservation, both cultural and environmental, within a wider African context, and also engage the value of Wildlife and Heritage Conservation during recovery from conflict or crisis. Through shared discussion we hope to isolate key successes and identify templates which other nations could utilize during their own recovery or development.

Through developing academic and professional partnerships, we hope to construct a network of individuals and organizations in Africa and beyond who are unified in their resolve to protect the world’s heritage. Through discussion and the sharing of expertise across a variety of disciplines we hope to combat the global threat to heritage using a multi-lateral approach which can be enacted through-out the societal stratigraphy, from community to governmental level.

The conference will provide an opportunity to draw parallels between the two conservation practices in nature and culture which, though harmonious in ethos, rarely collaborate to share practices. Through studying mechanisms used within Wildlife Conservation, such as the IUCN’s Endangered Species Red Lists, in comparison with the ICOM red lists, Cultural Heritage Preservation professionals may ultimately be able to create their own priority lists for conserving the world’s shared heritage too. This ‘prioritising’ of heritage protection is intrinsically valuable in that it will provide a framework for identifying, categorizing and targeting conservation efforts in a more objective and international manner, following the success of models used in Wildlife Conservation.


We welcome abstract submissions from all those working across the various disciplines within conservation and preservation efforts; be they culturally, environmentally, anthropologically or otherwise focused.

Authors are invited to submit abstracts (max 500w, including 4-5 keywords) for papers to be delivered at the conference whose topics align with any of the below themes. The submission deadline for abstracts is 14th May 2018

Click here to download an Abstract Submission Template


Proposed Themes and Sessions:


Tangible, intangible, moveable, immoveable, natural and cultural: How do we define our heritage and what are the limitations of categorising it so rigorously?


Global climate change, poaching, theft and looting, urbanisation and many more. Identifying threats, prioritising action and engaging diverse perspectives. How do we measure and prioritise that which we are trying to protect, and who, when considering the diversity of world perspectives, decides?


Engaging communities, promoting sustainable economic development and establishing mutual benefit for people, their culture, wildlife, and the environment we all live in. Exploring home-grown solutions for global preservation issues.


Top-down and bottom-up approaches to protecting our natural and cultural heritage, interrogating the tension between government efforts and community needs. The potential of Citizen Science in Africa, including the FAIR principles and their implementation.


Historical perspectives on processes of collection, acquisition and appropriation of natural and cultural heritage; discussing the political past of museum objects and how context can be conveyed in current displays.


Comparing the parallel threats of wildlife poaching and cultural property theft. Exploring the potential for developing shared solutions, including cross-border collaboration, to prevent these crimes through advocacy, education and law.


Opportunities for cross-disciplinary learning and innovation within natural and cultural preservation. How can we coordinate efforts and share best practices on a local, national and global level, across multiple preservation disciplines?

 Click here to download an Abstract Submission Template

To submit an abstract or to contact the conference organisers with a query please email

For more information on the Culture in Crisis Programme, please visit


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