Astrid Swenson**



I studied History, History of Art, Romance Languages and European Studies in Mainz, Dijon and Cambridge. My PhD in History at the University of Cambridge (St. John’s College), funded by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and an Arts and Humanities Research Board award, won the Prize of the German Historical Institute, London. After a Junior Fellowship at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, I became a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge in the interdisciplinary Cambridge Victorian Studies Group’s five-year project ‘Past versus Progress in Victorian Britain’ (funded by the Leverhulme Trust), and was a Fellow of Darwin College and a temporary University Lecturer in Modern European History. I joined Brunel in 2010 as Lecturer in European History.


  • PhD History (Cantab)
  • M.Phil European Studies (Cantab)

Research area(s)

  • Modern European history
  • Heritage and memory
  • Comparative and transnational history
  • French, German and British cultural history

Membership and affiliation

  • External Expert Panel (2012), COST Domain of Individuals, Societies, Cultures and Health (ISCH), European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)


Research interests

My research focuses on heritage, memory, art and museums in the nineteenth and twentieth century and is essentially driven by three interlinked questions: why and how do attitudes towards the past change, how does knowledge move across cultures, and how does cultural transfer relate to nationalism, internationalism and imperialism. My forthcoming book on the rise of heritage in France, Germany and England, 1789-1914, examines exchange within Europe and the impact of increasing internationalisation during the long nineteenth century. My current research focuses on heritage and imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth century. I am also currently preparing a general introductory book on ‘Heritage Histories’.

Research project(s) and grant(s)

British Academy
Crusader heritages and imperial preservation
April 2012 - October 2013
Astrid Swenson (PI)

Centre interdisciplinaire d’études et de recherches sur l’Allemagne (CIERA)
Borders of heritage/ frontières du patrimoine
€ 14,000
October 2011 - October 2013
Astrid Swenson (Co-PI, with Nabila Oulebsir, Dominique Poulot, Laurier Turgeon)

Heritage and Endangerment
Member of the Working Group ‘Endangerment and its consequences’, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
October 2011-2015



Leverhulme Trust
Past versus present: abandoning the past in an age of progress
Oct 2006 - Oct 2011
Astrid Swenson (CI /Research Associate)




Undergraduate Programmes

Module convenor

  • History, Memory and Culture in Europe since 1789 (Yr 1)
  • The History and Politics of Heritage (Yr 3)

Postgraduate Programmes

Module convenor

  • Imperialism and Culture


Research supervision

William Tyson-Banks: The forgotten history of the forgotten campaign: Allied military government in Italy, 1943-45

Natalie Boreham: Medical Relief and the Poor Law in London Workhouses, 1834-1867

Selected Publications

Journal articles

Gaudenzi, B.  and Swenson, A.   (Accepted)   'Looted Art and Restitution in the Twentieth Century – Towards a Global Perspective'. Journal of Contemporary History. doi: 10.1177/0022009417692409 Download publication 

Bildhauer, B. , Goebel, S. , Laube, S. , Marchand, S.  and Swenson, A.   (2016)   'Forum: Historicism'. German History, 34 (4).  pp. 646 - 671. doi: 10.1093/gerhis/ghw031 

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. doi: 10.5749/futuante.13.1.0001 Download publication 

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

Swenson, A.   (2015)   'Crusader Heritages and Imperial Preservation'. Past and Present: A Journal of Historical Studies, 226 (Supplement 10).  pp. 27 - 56. doi: 10.1093/pastj/gtu024 Download publication 

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 pp. 37 - 43. Download publication 


Swenson, A.   (2013) The Rise of Heritage. Preserving the Past in France, Germany and England, 1789-1914. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press 

Swenson, A.  and Mandler, P.   (2013) From Plunder to Preservation. Britain and the Heritage of Empire, c.1800-1940. Oxford:  Oxford University Press 

Book chapters

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

Swenson, A.  (2015)   'Fanny Talbot (1824-1917)', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  Oxford Oxford University Press 

Swenson, A.  (2015)   'Cologne Cathedral as an International Monument', in Rueger, J.  and Wachsmann, N. (eds.) Re-writing German History: New Perspectives on Modern Germany.  London Palgrave Macmillan pp. 29 - 51. Download publication 

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 Oxford University Press (187) : pp. 3 - 28. 

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 pp. 197 - 227. 

Swenson, A.  (2012)   'Popular heritage and commodification debates in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain, France and Germany', in Melman, B. , Berger, S.  and Lorenz, C. (eds.) Popularizing National Pasts: 1800 to the PresentNational Histories in Europe, 1800 to the Present.  Routledge pp. 102 - 124. 

Swenson, A.  (2011)   'The Law’s Delay? Preservation Legislation in France, Germany and England, 1870-1914', in Hall, M. (ed.) Towards World Heritage: International Origins of the Preservation Movement 1870-1930.  Ashgate pp. 139 - 154. 

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. 

Swenson, A.  (2008)   '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. 

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 Verlag pp. 81 - 103. 

Swenson, A.  (2007)   ''Heritage', 'Patrimoine' und 'Kulturerbe': Eine vergleichende historische Semantik', in Hemme, D.  and Tauschek, M. (eds.) Praedikat 'Heritage': Wertschoepfung aus kulturellen Resourcen.  Muenster LIT Verlag pp. 53 - 74. 

Page last updated: Thursday 30 July 2015