First, it investigates the role of heritage in processes of identification from a comparative perspective. Understanding how the production, circulation, and reception of material and immaterial heritage relates to identity formation requires a historical perspective as well as a geographically comparative one.
Second, the ACHI conceives of heritage as a constantly changing and dynamic object of study. Processes of globalization and technological development determine the occasions and methods for interpreting heritage; at the same time, processes of identity formation can often be traced by following the dynamic trajectories of cultural heritage.
Third, the dynamic nature of heritage entails innovation (e.g., the rise of the public museum in the 19th century as a tool for educating the middle class), but also loss (e.g., disappearing languages and traditions) andconflict (e.g., colonial heritage or the rise of ‘memory wars’). In order to assess this dynamic the ACHI devotes attention to issues of documentation, conservation, ownership, and memory.
The ACHI cooperates with a range of heritage institutions including the collections that result from Amsterdam’s history of trade and exchange in a European and global context. The UvA’s strong research traditions regarding immaterial heritage, material culture, and the built environment are complemented by the Free University of Amsterdam’s expertise on landscape and maritime heritage. In addition, the ‘Greater Amsterdam’ area is home to many initiatives in digital heritage. These have made the Netherlands among the leading nations in the field and offer many opportunities for collaboration between heritage scholars and private partners from Amsterdam’s flourishing creative industry.