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ICOMOS SCIENTIFIC SYMPOSIUM 2024 - Revisiting the Venice Charter: Critical Perspectives and Contemporary Challenges

As ICOMOS celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the Venice Charter, it will also launch its new Triennial Scientific Plan, “Disaster and Conflict Resilient Heritage: Preparedness, Response and Recovery” at the Annual General Assembly in Ouro Preto, Brazil.

The Venice Charter remains a founding historic document for ICOMOS, rooted in a specific context and shaped by the heritage concepts of its time. Sixty years later, practice and doctrine have evolved, new cultural conventions have been established and the scientific work and capacity of ICOMOS have fundamentally changed. At the same time, the world is facing a major challenge posed by climate change, disasters, and conflicts, fueling major displacements of communities and challenging all of our structures. The primary focus of the Symposium will be a critical discussion on the Venice Charter considering the current state of discourse surrounding heritage and a cross-cutting approach between more recent conventions and the pragmatic needs of practice today.

The Symposium endeavors to comprehensively reassess the Venice Charter in a contemporary context, with a focus on five key sub-themes. It aims to explore the charter's historical context, emphasizing its Eurocentric origins and diverse regional responses, advocating for a critical rereading that considers how heritage concepts and practice have evolved since 1964. Additionally, the symposium seeks to foster a cross-cutting approach between the Venice Charter and other international conventions, such as the Hague Convention of 1954, the World Heritage Convention of 1972, and the Nara Document on Authenticity of 1994, the Intangible Heritage Convention of 2003, and the Faro Convention of 2005. It emphasizes the importance of reinterpreting the charter through diverse epistemologies, acknowledging cultural diversity, and considering contributions from the Global South. The discussions will critically examine the state of heritage discourse, evaluating the charter's relevance to contemporary practice, including those posed by modern heritage, the rise of the metropolises, social inequities, disasters and environmental impact.

The discussion of the Venice Charter aligns seamlessly with the overarching theme of the ICOMOS Triennial Scientific Plan, "Disaster and Conflict Resilient Heritage: Preparedness, Response, and Recovery" that highlights the imperative to address contemporary challenges facing heritage, particularly in the context of disasters and conflicts. By critically revisiting the Venice Charter, we aim to bridge the historical document with present-day issues, emphasizing the need to adapt heritage conservation practices to the demands of the 21st century.

The selection of Ouro Preto as the venue for the Symposium holds strategic significance due to its historical character as a city shaped by the XVIII-century Brazilian gold rush. Being the first city in Brazil to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ouro Preto embodies a rich heritage that aligns with the overarching theme of the event. Furthermore, its proximity to a site profoundly affected by one of Brazil's most significant environmental disasters offers a tangible and poignant backdrop for discussions on heritage resilience. This context reinforces the symposium's objective to critically examine the Venice Charter and review its relevance in the contemporary discourse on heritage, authenticity, and resilience.


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