Cultural Heritage and Identities as well as their interactions, are fiercely debated topics in modern society. Due to globalisation, the issues of mutual or shared heritage are active, now more than ever, in politics on an international level and in the European Union particularly, as diversities in national identities and heritage programmes interfere more and more in the supranational entities that are developing or envisioned. Current conflicts on European commitment, the National Museum echec or the arts, science and culture bashings are only few of the many significant markers of today's unrest in cultural heritage positioning and identity processes.
Cultural Heritage and Identities have become priority areas in international academic research. The pivotal importance of these fields, in terms of fundamental research and societal valorisation, was underscored once more in the recent KNAW report 'Cultuur en Identiteit'* an outline for innovations in humanities research.
New media developments in recent years have made the issues of Cultural Heritage and Identities and their interactions even more urgent. Worldwide, museums and archives as well as other cultural heritage institutions, are embracing the prospect of a 'second life' in the new virtual biotope. Due to omnipresent digitisation, the cultural past is more present than ever. As a result, the position and status of cultural heritage in processes of identity are changing rapidly and dramatically.
This momentum, therefore, is highly opportune for Amsterdam's Centre for Cultural Heritage and Identity studies (ACHI). It is our mission to explore the effects of cultural heritage on processes of identity formation, and, vice versa, the effects of identities on the meanings attributed to cultural heritage. Internationally renowned for its expertise, the ACHI aims at connecting fundamental knowledge of cultural heritage and identity processes with these questions urgent in society.