May 16-19, 2016

Prague, Czech Republic

The dichotomy between nature and culture in heritage conservation has often seemed like an either/or proposition. But in recent years, heritage designations at the international, national, regional and local levels are beginning to reflect the fact that nature and culture are indivisible. This is true for the application of all of heritage’s associated disciplines: landscape, architecture, archaeology, folklore, ethnobotany, history, ethnography, planning, agriculture and public health, just to name a few. In fact, there is probably no discipline in the humanities, social or natural sciences that is not affected by either culture, nature or, more often, both.

What this means for researchers and professionals is a necessity for inter- and multi-disciplinary conservation and preservation efforts. Gone are the days when heritage professionals can oppose ecological conservation efforts – and vice versa – without significant effects to the resources. On the other hand, increased efforts to achieve the conservation of integrated natural and cultural systems will result in higher adaptability and resilience, critical outcomes in the era of climate change.

This three-day conference is the 7th in a series of annual conferences exploring the relevance of heritage in present-day society. This year’s conference is sponsored by the Center for Heritage & Society at the University of Massachusetts, in conjunction with the Faculty of Environmental Sciences at the Czech University of Life Sciences. The Czech Republic is a particularly appropriate location to explore these themes since both nature and culture are an integral part of Czech culture and society.

The Conference explores this link between nature and culture in an interconnected series of events designed to highlight different ways of thinking about heritage, nature and their interface. The event will include a three-day scientific symposium, organized field trips to explore key cultural and natural heritage sites, and a juried film and photograph exhibition. For all questions about the conference, please email us at

Abstract Submissions

This conference will be open to the public. Papers selected will be the basis of twenty-minute presentations followed by discussion. To propose a symposium, paper, or poster for one of the four sub-themes listed above, please submit an abstract (maximum 350 words) here by March 15, 2016. No more than one abstract will be accepted per author (you may submit a second if you are not the principal author). Proposals will be selected through a blind peer review by the conference committee. Authors will be notified within two weeks of submission on a rolling basis.

Abstract Submissions are Closed

Conference Themes

Communities in the aftermath of human- or natural-disturbances

In the light of increasing disturbance, both human and natural, the need to understand degradation and appropriate responses is more important than ever. Climate change, resource extraction, war, strife, and migrations all leave significant scars both on people and their landscape.

Large landscapes: Are nature and culture indivisible?

Cultural landscape management may need to confront the same ambivalence which William Cronon addresses in his seminal essay, “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature”. Any cultural worldview which perpetuates separation between humans and the natural

The role of authenticity: When does heritage become a parody of itself?

Museums, living heritage villages, archaeological sites – these are all dependent on an interaction between the site and the visitor. Interpretation of the layers of heritage, and clarity about what is authentic and what is not guides the visitor’s experience

The role of traditional and indigenous knowledge in heritage and nature conservation

Communities and their associated lands are created and shaped in novel and significant ways by those who inhabit them. Embedded in local knowledge are the tangible and intangible features that govern a culture’s understanding of the world including relationships to