Introducing Christian Ernsten
Christian Ernsten is a researcher in heritage studies in the Department of History of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. He is affiliated with the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation, and Heritage (MACCH). In addition, Christian is a lecturer in the Master in Arts and Heritage program.
Christian’s research is situated at the intersection of the fields of critical heritage studies, archaeology, and environmental humanities.In relation to MACCH’s research theme ‘Arts and Heritage in the Making’, he is interested in alternative regimes of care. In particular, he examines those moments when heritage sites and remains become poignant features of the struggle for a subaltern politics of memory and identity.
Thinking about the question ‘What are the heritage practices required for a counter-modern history?’, he explores notions such as landscape as archive, body as archive, and performance as archive. Currently, he is reworking his PhD thesis Renaissance and Revenants in an Emerging Global City into a monograph. Through an examination of the deep materiality of colonial modernity, the thesis looks at how contemporary Cape Town is reinvented and haunted at the same time by utopic visions of regeneration, on the one hand, and by the unresolved traumas of the past, on the other. In addition, he is developing a research project on the coloniality of nature and the transformation of Sint Pietersberg, a hill near Maastricht.
Before joining Maastricht University, Christian was as a lecturer in cultural heritage and museology at the Reinwardt Academy of the Amsterdam University of Arts. He holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town. He received an MA from the University of Groningen (with distinction) and an MPhil (with distinction) from the University of Cape Town. His work has been published in journals such as Archaeologies, International Journal for Heritage Studies, and Urban Forum. He has held visiting research fellowships at the Conservation Department of the University of Gothenburg, the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam, and the Centre for Uses of the Past at Aarhus University.
In a previous life, Christian directed the Amsterdam-based design and action collective Partizan Publik, as well as the Amsterdam 4 and 5 May committee, the organization that coordinates the WWII commemorative events in the city of Amsterdam. He also worked as an editor at Volume magazine, a quarterly for architecture and visual culture founded by Rem Koolhaas.