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Astrid Swenson

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Personal statement

Astrid Swenson joined Bath Spa University in 2017 as Professor of History, having previously taught at the University of Cambridge and Brunel University London. She studied history, art history and romance languages in Mainz (Germany) and Dijon (France), and received her Ph.D from the University of Cambridge. She held a research fellowship at the Institute for Human Science in Vienna and with the Cambridge Victorian Studies Group and Darwin College, Cambridge.

Astrid is a cultural historian of modern Europe. Her research focuses on heritage, museums and material culture since the late 18th century. She is particularly interested in how attitudes to the past and the movement of ideas, objects and people across borders interrelate and how both shape and are shaped by local, national and global structures and identities.

Her publications, which include The Rise of Heritage in France, Germany and England, 1789-1914 (Cambridge University Press 2013), From Plunder to Preservation: Britain and the Heritage of Empire (edited with Peter Mandler, Oxford University Press, 2013) and a special issue of the Journal of Contemporary History on Art Looting and Restitution in the 20th Century (2017) show the longstanding importance of global connections for our modern understanding of ‘heritage’.

Long interested in interdisciplinary exchange, she co-directed a number of international projects, including ‘Border of Heritage’ hosted at the EHESS in Paris and the 'AHRC Sensory Cities Network', which developed new methods to research the senses in urban environments.

She currently works on a monograph on the relation of heritage and imperialism through a study of crusader sites across the Mediterranean and a short history of Cologne Cathedral as a microhistory of global connections. Collaboratively, she is completing a pilot project on the sensory feel of Smithfield Market, at the centre of London’s new culture mile, and is involved in writing the history of museum visiting in transnational perspective.

Academic qualifications

  • Ph.D, History, University of Cambridge
  • M.Phil, European Studies, University of Cambridge
  • BA (Licence), History, Université de Bourgogne.

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Other external roles

Areas of interest

Modern history, heritage, museums, Europe, France, Germany and Britain. 

Research supervision

Astrid welcomes Ph.D students wishing to work on the cultural and social history of nineteenth and twentieth century Europe (in particular France, Germany and Britain and transnationally) and those interested in historical approaches to heritage studies.

Research and academic outputs

Go to ResearchSPAce

The rise of heritage: preserving the past in France, Germany and England, 1789-1914
book

Swenson, A (2013) The rise of heritage: preserving the past in France, Germany and England, 1789-1914. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9780521117623


From plunder to preservation: Britain and the heritage of empire, c.1800-1940
book

Swenson, A and Mandler, P, eds. (2013) From plunder to preservation: Britain and the heritage of empire, c.1800-1940. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780197265413


Under false pretenses
book_section

Swenson, A (2018) 'Under false pretenses.' In: Buckland, A and Qureshi, S, eds. Time travellers: the Victorians and their past. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. (Forthcoming)


'To every landless man, woman and child in England’: Octavia Hill and the preservation movement
book_section

Swenson, A (2016) ''To every landless man, woman and child in England’: Octavia Hill and the preservation movement.' In: Baigent, E and Cowell, B, eds. 'Nobler imaginings and mightier struggles': Octavia Hill, social activism and the remaking of British society. Institute for Historical Research, London, pp. 187-208. ISBN 9781909646001


Cologne Cathedral as an international monument
book_section

Swenson, A (2015) 'Cologne Cathedral as an international monument.' In: Rüger, J and Wachsmann, N, eds. Rewriting German history: new perspectives on modern Germany. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 29-51. ISBN 9781137347787


Fanny Talbot (1824-1917)
book_section

Swenson, A (2015) 'Fanny Talbot (1824-1917).' In: Cannadine, D, ed. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, Oxford.


Sodom
book_section

Swenson, A (2013) 'Sodom.' In: Gange, D and Ledger-Lomas, M, eds. Cities of God: the Bible and archaeology in nineteenth-century Britain. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 197-227. ISBN 9781107004245


The heritage of empire
book_section

Swenson, A (2013) 'The heritage of empire.' In: Swenson, A and Mandler, P, eds. From plunder to preservation: Britain and the heritage of empire, c.1800-1940. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 3-28. ISBN 9780197265413


Popular heritage and commodification debates in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain, France and Germany
book_section

Swenson, A (2012) 'Popular heritage and commodification debates in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain, France and Germany.' In: Berger, S, Lorenz, C and Melman, B, eds. Popularizing national pasts: 1800 to the present. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 102-124. ISBN 9780415894357


The law’s delay? Preservation legislation in France, Germany and England, 1870-1914
book_section

Swenson, A (2011) 'The law’s delay? Preservation legislation in France, Germany and England, 1870-1914.' In: Towards world heritage: international origins of the preservation movement 1870-1930. Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 139-154. ISBN 9781409407720


Memory, gender and anti-fascism in France and Britain in the 1930s
book_section

Swenson, A (2009) 'Memory, gender and anti-fascism in France and Britain in the 1930s.' In: Paletschek, S and Schraut, S, eds. The gender of memory: cultures of remembrance in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe. Campus Verlag/Chicago University Press, pp. 125-146. ISBN 9783593385495


Musées de moulages et protection du patrimoine
book_section

Swenson, A (2009) 'Musées de moulages et protection du patrimoine.' In: Rolland, A-S and Murauskaya, H, eds. Les musées de la nation: créations, transpositions, renouveau. Europe XIXe-XXe siècles. Editions L’Harmattan, pp. 205-219. ISBN 9782296074378


Zwischen Region, Nation und Internationalismus. Kulturerbekonzepte in Frankreich, Deutschland und England um die Jahrhundertwende
book_section

Swenson, A (2008) 'Zwischen Region, Nation und Internationalismus. Kulturerbekonzepte in Frankreich, Deutschland und England um die Jahrhundertwende.' In: Altenburg, D, Ehrlich, L and John, J, eds. Im Herzen Europas : nationale Identitäten und Erinnerungskulturen. Böhlau, Köln, pp. 81-103. ISBN 9783412200947


Founders of the National Trust (act. 1894–1895)
book_section

Swenson, A (2008) 'Founders of the National Trust (act. 1894–1895).' In: Goldman, L, ed. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, Oxford.


'Heritage', 'Patrimoine' und 'Kulturerbe': eine vergleichende historische Semantik
book_section

Swenson, A (2007) ''Heritage', 'Patrimoine' und 'Kulturerbe': eine vergleichende historische Semantik.' In: Hemme, D, Tauschek, M and Bendix, R, eds. Praedikat 'Heritage': Wertschoepfung aus kulturellen Resourcen. LIT Verlag, Berlin, pp. 53-74. ISBN 9783825898922


Historic preservation, the state and nationalism in Britain
article

Swenson, A (2018) 'Historic preservation, the state and nationalism in Britain.' Nations and Nationalism, 24 (1). pp. 43-63. ISSN 1354-5078


Looted art and restitution in the twentieth century – towards a global perspective
article

Gaudenzi, B and Swenson, A (2017) 'Looted art and restitution in the twentieth century – towards a global perspective.' Journal of Contemporary History, 52 (3). pp. 491-518. ISSN 0022-0094


Historicism
article

Bildhauer, B, Goebel, S, Laube, S, Marchand, S and Swenson, A (2016) 'Historicism.' German History, 34 (4). pp. 646-671. ISSN 0266-3554


The first heritage international(s): conceptualising global networks before UNESCO
article

Swenson, A (2016) 'The first heritage international(s): conceptualising global networks before UNESCO.' Future Anterior: Journal of Historic Preservation, History, Theory, and Criticism, 13 (1). pp. 1-15. ISSN 1549-9715


Crusader heritages and imperial preservation
article

Swenson, A (2015) 'Crusader heritages and imperial preservation.' Past and Present, 226 (Sup.10). pp. 27-56. ISSN 0031-2746


Patrimoine: voyages des mots. Heritage, Erbe, Beni culturali, Turâth, Tigemmi
article

Oulebsir, N and Swenson, A (2015) 'Patrimoine: voyages des mots. Heritage, Erbe, Beni culturali, Turâth, Tigemmi.' Patrimoine et Architecture, 21-22. pp. 10-23.


Response to Ian Tyrrell, "America's national parks: the transnational creation of national space in the Progressive Era"
article

Swenson, A (2012) 'Response to Ian Tyrrell, "America's national parks: the transnational creation of national space in the Progressive Era".' Journal of American Studies, 46 (1). pp. 37-43. ISSN 1469-5154


Heritage on display: exhibitions and congresses for the protection of ancient monuments at the World’s Fairs 1855-1915
conference_item

Swenson, A (2006) Heritage on display: exhibitions and congresses for the protection of ancient monuments at the World’s Fairs 1855-1915. In: IWM Junior Visiting Fellows Conference, 2006, Vienna, Austria.


Conceptualising heritage in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France, Germany and England
thesis

Swenson, A (2007) Conceptualising heritage in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France, Germany and England. PhD thesis, University of Cambridge.


The changing feel of Smithfield: exploring sensory identities and temporal flows
commissioned_report

Degen, M, Lewis, C, Swenson, A and Ward, I (2017) The changing feel of Smithfield: exploring sensory identities and temporal flows. Brunel University, London. ISBN 9781908549341


The culture of history: English uses of the past 1800—1953 [book review]
other

Swenson, A (2009) The culture of history: English uses of the past 1800—1953 [book review]. Journal of Contemporary History, 44 (2). pp. 338-341. ISSN 0022-0094


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