HomeFloods as Heritage: the heritage value of floods

Floods as Heritage: the heritage value of floods

La crue, l’inondation : un patrimoine ?

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Published on Friday, May 15, 2015 by Céline Guilleux


This workshop will explore the possibilities of considering floods as heritage. Floods are usually considered as destructive forces, but here we wish to focus on their creative aspect. There has been considerable work on the heritage value of rivers, but we want to explore the potential of considering floods themselves as heritage. What is the intellectual and practical potential of making this connection? What are the possible dangers involved? How and why does the process of remembering floods differ in different places and among different people? How can the memory of floods be considered a creative process?



Flooding can be considered as a kind of heritage whose legacy is to transmit preparedness for the next flood. The temporary - the event that is impermanent in its materiality - is nevertheless remembered.  What practical insights and tools to promote cultures of risk might be gained by considering floods in this way?

Floods can also create identity, as in defining the group-experience of a hydrological episode. A flood may therefore create forms of inclusion, but also forms of inequality and exclusion. How might this aspect of the legacy of floods be explored?

Many representations of historical floods exist to establish, or preserve, their legacy. Consider, for example, the numerous postcards, paintings and photographs of floods, which themselves form a kind of heritage. How are these representations interpreted variously by different people in different places and times? What is their effect?

Numerous flood-markers have been placed on bridges, piers, buildings and other forms of material heritage to recall historical water levels. It is often the responsibility of public agencies to place such markers to help promote a “culture of risk”. Here, we may ask how these markers figure in the conscience and the imaginary of people living or visiting such places. How do they affect peoples’ memory? Why are some markers well maintained, while others are left untended?

While floods may damage some forms of built heritage, others forms of built heritage, such as dams, dikes and embankments, are intended to control or mitigate floods. How do these structures affect peoples’ memory, or awareness, of floods?  How do they participate in the commemoration of flooding?

Due to their hydro-morphological and ecological functions, flooding is now considered a kind of natural heritage that helps promote the resilience of hydro-systems. Furthermore, thanks to the deposition of sediments, flooding can leave an important legacy to the land it inundates. J.P. Bravard has described current policy trends in river management in terms of restoring such functions, noting “hydrological extremes, especially floods, are essential for maintaining various forms of equilibrium and therefore have a value as heritage resources.” What advantages can be gained from thinking of floods as heritage resources in this way?

Submission guidelines

This workshop is part of a series of projects undertaken by the research chair, “Environmental Capital and Sustainable Management of Rivers”, based at the research unit GEOLAB at the University of Limoges (France). 

We invite you to contact us by email before May 30, 2015,

proposing in one page, how you would investigate the links between heritage and flooding. Proposals from all disciplines are welcome. We equally welcome contributions from people involved in various aspects of water and flood management and administration.

We will review the proposals and get back to you by June 30, 2015 to tell you whether your proposal has been accepted. Intercontinental travel expenses (to a ceiling) and accommodation will be covered. A publication (either an edited collection or special issue of a journal) is planned.


  • Limoges, France (87)


  • Sunday, May 31, 2015


  • inondation, crue, risque, patrimoine, mémoire


  • Alexis Metzger
    courriel : alexis [dot] metzger [at] ens [dot] fr
  • Jamie Linton
    courriel : james [dot] linton [at] unilim [dot] fr

Information source

  • Alexis Metzger
    courriel : alexis [dot] metzger [at] ens [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Floods as Heritage: the heritage value of floods », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, May 15, 2015, https://calenda.org/329371

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