Sinking Cities Projekt
Submerged cities and villages around the world bear witness to losses caused by rising sea levels, earthquakes and dammed rivers. Shutterstock/ MHESIAS

Headline: Cultural heritage and climate adaptation in coastal cities (Sinking Cities)


Cultural heritage and climate adaptation in coastal cities

Humankind has grappled with flooding and changing climatic conditions for thousands of years. These experiences are reflected in diverse cultural practices, narratives, films, books, artifacts and the built environment. Such cultural heritage resources are already being used in support of efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The use of archival material to reconstruct historical flooding events is one example, and the much-vaunted contribution of the jazz scene to the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina another. Cultural heritage is even deployed to build confidence in adaptation measures - as seen in the naming of the MOSE flood barrier in Venice. Despite this, in the context of climate change, cultural heritage is rarely perceived as a potential resource - instead, the public conversation tends to focus on the looming loss of distinct cultural assets.

This project examines current efforts to mobilise cultural heritage in the context of climate adaptation processes, including the effects of its mobilisation, and seeks to identify untapped potentials. One focus is on the societal role of cultural heritage in processing loss and accepting change.

Transdisciplinary collaboration between art and science

In an attempt to find new ways of mobilising cultural heritage to support adaptation processes and increase climate resilience, real-world experiments will be carried out in the cities of Alexandria, Bremen and Jakarta in cooperation with partners from the scientific and cultural sectors, in which new cultural formats will be developed and trialled. As a part of this work, a network of cultural actors in coastal cities will be established with the aim of supporting future work on cultural heritage and climate adaptation via digital infrastructure.