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Worlding Heritage: Historic Urban Landcapes + the Conservation Imaginary

Joseph Heathcott

This ongoing line of inquiry examines the conservation imaginary as it relates to cities. It begins from the premise that conservation is a future-making proposition, and that implicit in the practice of preserving artifacts is the selection of versions of the world to project forward through time. At stake are conflicts over narratives of the past, land uses in the present, and the right of people to imagine alternatives for the future. Thus far the results of this project have taken the form of articles, essays, and presentations (see below). The ultimate goal is to produce a book that explores the topic in detail, grounded in extensive fieldwork, archival research, and site analyses.

Activities, publications, and other results

"Worlding Heritage: Historic Urban Landscapes and the Conservation Imaginary" 

Book manuscript in progress


"Abandoned Buildings and Vacant Lots as a Heritage of Racial Capitalism in Post-Industrial Cities"

Lecture for the Cities Programme

London School of Economics

September 2021

"Race, Class, and Culture in New Orleans"

Two teaching modules for the Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative:  

1. Global Trajectories, 1700-1850

2. Forging an American Metropolis, 1850-1940



"The Heritage of Water: Liquid Peril and Promise in Istanbul"

Presentation for lecture series The Istanbul Talks, sponsored by the Istanbul Planning Agency 

December 2020

"Place-Making and World-Seeking on the Swahili Coast" 

Five teaching modules for the Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative:

1. The Swahili Archipelago

2. Evolution of the Old Stone Towns since 900 BCE

3. Reaching Out to the World: Dhows, Ports, and Waterfronts

4. Building the Town: Home, Shop, and Mosque

5. From Colonial Outpost to Post-Colonial Metropolis



"Slow Motion Katrina: The Heritage of Racial Capitalism"

Lecture at the University of Antwerp

October 2019


"Colonial Archetypes and Heritage Conservation in East Africa"

Paper presented for a session at the World History Association Conference

San Juan, Puerto Rico

July 2019

Talk based on research undertaken in 2012-2013 with UNESCO and the Historic Urban Landscape Initiative: 

"The Historic Urban Landscape of the Swahili Coast: New Frameworks for Conservation"

World Heritage Papers Series No. 36: Swahili Historic Urban Landscapes

Paris: UNESCO World Heritage Center 


"What's In a Roofline? Architectural Memory in the Heart of Queens"

Urban Omnibus: The Journal of the Architectural League of New York

December 2017


"Official Magic: Mexico City and the Planning Imaginary"

Paper presented for conference on Urban World-Making 

University of Amsterdam

June 2017


"The Third Life of Industrial Cities: The Case of Paris"

Paper presented for a session at the European Architectural History Network

Turin, Italy

June 2017

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