Can interpretation prevent war?

©Ludwig Can heritage interpretation prevent war slide

©Ludwig Can heritage interpretation prevent war slide
©Ludwig Can heritage interpretation prevent war slide
©Ludwig Can heritage interpretation prevent war slide

IE’s contribution to the GAHI series of webinars was presented by Thorsten Ludwig and considered this provocative and topical subject.

The Global Alliance for Heritage Interpretation (GAHI) is taking networking of interpreters around the globe to the next level. It offers a platform for meeting and exchanging between experts, encouraging them to either join national organisations within GAHI or to establish their own national organisations. However, another extremely important role of GAHI is the exchange of views and ideas about our profession, and this year a programme of webinars presented by most of the global heritage interpretation organisations is being offered for free.

In this second webinar in the series, Thorsten Ludwig presented on behalf of IE and we were proud to showcase a potted history of IE’s philosophical development over recent years, along with some examples of concrete work undertaken to develop the heritage interpretation profession. The fact that the topic for this session highlighted the importance of our work in a global context, with war on the horizon, was even more poignant. Thorsten used this background to consider ideas about why interpreters are needed in contemporary society: using heritage to help people make sense of the world, but also, to actively and critically consider our values, attitudes and way of life.

Thorsten traced the evolution of Interpret Europe over the past five years, from our 2016 conference, ‘Heritage interpretation – for the future of Europe’, through the EU award-winning initiative, ‘Engaging citizens with Europe’s cultural heritage’, to the recent collaboration with UNESCO on ‘value-based heritage interpretation’, which will become the core mandate of interpretation at all UNESCO WHS visitor centres.

It is time to think about the further development of the interpretive profession and Thorsten gave us plenty of food for thought to inspire us to look deeper at our profession and the intentions behind our practice. There seemed to be a noticeable echo in the interpretive community.

Referring to Freeman Tilden’s founding principles of interpretation and to Jon Batiste’s recent Grammy Awards acceptance speech, the conclusion to this webinar – and the call to action for us as interpreters – was: “Let’s turn heritage sites and objects into instruments, empowering people to become artists who shape our future in a more peaceful and sustainable way”.

You can catch up on recordings of the GAHI webinars, and see the programme for future ones which run until December 2022, on the GAHI website here: https://www.gahi.online/global-excellence-in-heritage-interpretation-webinar-series/

To cite this article: Thorsten Ludwig (2022) ‘Can interpretation prevent war?’ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 1-2022, pg.6

Available online:https://interpret-europe.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/PDF-Newsletter-2022_1-spring_draft-5.pdf

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