Interpret Europe: Call for Papers on Heritage Communities

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Fostering heritage communities’ is the title of the next Interpret Europe Conference that will take place from 8 to 11 May 2020 in Haapsalu, Estonia. Interpret Europe now accepts proposals for presentations and interactive workshops! Read about previous events of Interpret Europe here.

What is heritage interpretation?

Heritage interpretation supports visitors of heritage sites as well as local people in their search for meaning in heritage. While many parks, monuments and museums might agree that a lively heritage community is invaluable for their site, they often feel challenged by debates with local people and by engaging with volunteers in interpretation, who all bring their own issues and opinions to the site.

Heritage lives through the people dedicated to it. What role could such communities play in interpreting natural and cultural heritage?

The Interpret Europe Conference intends to bridge that gap between abstract concepts such as participation and citizenship building and the very practical need to ‘get things done’. It seeks to explain the ideas behind contemporary approaches to heritage interpretation and to exchange experiences of practitioners how to bring the theory to earth.

Interpret Europe

Considering the political background, the conference intends to bring, especially, two European conventions to life: the Faro Convention and the Florence Convention.


What do heritage communities and landscape mean for heritage interpretation? In relation to the conference title ‘Fostering heritage communities’, Interpret Europe invites proposals for presentations and interactive workshops that particularly address one or more of the following questions:

  • What turns the living experience of heritage into a process fostering active citizenship?
  • How can we involve favourable as well as critical stakeholders with heritage communities?
  • How can we encourage people to reflect upon heritage sites from different perspectives?
  • How can co-creation of interpretation help people to understand heritage?
  • What role do acknowledged experts play if other stakeholders start to interpret heritage?
  • Can anybody be an interpreter?
  • What triggers engagement and boosts a sense of fulfillment for volunteer interpreters?
  • Considering a shift of paradigms, what new qualities does interpretive training need to have?
  • Are values of heritage defined by communities, or do communities enhance the value of heritage?
  • How do the Conventions’ concepts of heritage and heritage communities compare to current theories of heritage interpretation, and what conclusions can we draw from that?

Interpret Europe also welcomes presentations and workshops that focus on the theory and practice of heritage interpretation as a discipline. Besides theoretical essays, descriptions of case studies of outstanding sites, or remarkable practices are welcome. Remember to fulfil the following requirements.


Interpret Europe conferences attract up to 200 attendees from as many as 40 countries. Besides four keynote addresses in the plenary, 60-80 workshops and presentations are run in parallel, in different strands. The call refers to these parallel sessions.

Presentations can be 25 or 55 minutes long including ten minutes for exchanges of views. Keeping presentations as short and as inspiring as possible is recommended. Workshops can be 55 or 85 minutes long and need to be differentiated by ensuring the active involvement of the participants.

Source: Interpret Europe

A dedicated Review Team will consider all paper abstracts and decide whether they are a sufficient basis for a workshop or presentation.


Please submit an abstract of your presentation or interactive workshop by 1 February 2020 using the template on You will find all information about requirements for this abstract there.

Conference proceedings will be published on the IE website from the day that the conference begins. They will have their own ISBN and include all full papers received by 15 April 2020.

Delivering a full paper is not mandatory for giving a presentation or workshop. Either can also be based on the paper abstract. Paper abstracts are published as part of the proceedings.


The Conference ‘Fostering heritage communities’ will be organised by Interpret Europe’s institutional member SALM, the Foundation of Haapsalu and Läänemaa Museums.
If you have any questions, please contact Conference Manager, Karin Mägi from SALM:

Lear more about Heritage Communities

Heritage communities are a cornerstone of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro Convention). The preamble of this outstanding Convention highlights “the need to put people and human values at the centre of an enlarged and cross-disciplinary concept of cultural heritage” and “to involve everyone in society in the ongoing process of defining and managing cultural heritage“.

A heritage community consists of people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations (Faro Convention, Article 2b).

The Convention asks us to “encourage everyone to participate in the process of (…) interpretation” (Article 12a) and to enhance “respect for diversity of interpretations” (Article 7a). In the Faro Convention’s wider understanding, cultural heritage “includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time” (Article 2).

Source: Interpret Europe


In terms of open landscapes, the Council of Europe’s Euopean Landscape Convention (Florence Convention) mirrors many of the aspects mentioned in the Faro Convention. It defines a landscape as a “basic component of the European natural and cultural heritage, contributing to human well-being and consolidation of the European identity” (Preamble).

‘Landscape’ means an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors (Florence Convention, Article 1a).

It expresses the need to “increase awareness among the civil society, private organisations, and public authorities of the value of landscapes” (Article 6A) and it claims “participation of the general public, local and regional authorities, and other parties with an interest in the definition and implementation of the landscape policies” (Article 5c).