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Michael Falser

Photo: © Isabel Mühlhaus


PD Dr.-Ing. Mag. Michael Falser

Forschung – Research

DFG-Heisenberg-Projekt (TU München), seit/since 3.2020

Deutsch-koloniale Architektur als globales Bauprojekt um 1900 und als transkulturelles Erbe heute
German-colonial architecture as a global project around 1900 and as a transcultural heritage today


Habilitation book project (professorial qualification script, published December 2019)

Angkor Wat – A Transcultural History of Heritage (DeGruyter, Berlin)
Volume 1: Angkor in France. From Plaster Casts to Exhibition Pavilions
Volume 2: Angkor in Cambodia. From Jungle Find to Global Icon

Aims and Scope. This book unravels the formation of the modern concept of cultural heritage by charting its colonial, postcolonial-nationalist and global trajectories. By bringing to light many unresearched dimensions of the 12th Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat during its modern history, the study argues for a conceptual, connected history that unfolded within the transcultural interstices of European and Asian projects. It discusses the multiple lives of Angkor Wat from its ‘discovery’ in the 19th century, and its physical representations in museums and universal/colonial exhibitions in France, to on-site restoration efforts inside the ‘Archaeological Park of Angkor’, the temple’s canonisation as a symbol of national identity during Cambodia’s decolonisation, and as a global icon of UNESCO World Heritage.


Conference and Publication project (2018)
International Conference
Le Patrimoine Culturel de l’Europe @ 2018. Réexaminer un concept – redéfinir ses enjeux
(Paris, 4-5 June 2018, Sorbonne University) Avec le soutien du LabEx Écrire une Histoire Nouvelle de l’Europe et du Centre André Chastel, Sorbonne-Université Paris
Homepage, Programme download here

Conference proceedings in planning (DeGruyter, Berlin)


Conference and Publication project (2017)
International Conference
State Socialism, Heritage Experts and Internationalism in Heritage Protection after 1945
(21 –22 November 2017, Exeter University, UK)

Themed issue in International Journal of Heritage Studies, edited with Nelly Bekus and Kate Cowcher (submitted for peer review)


Project Leader – Research Project (2014-2017)

Picturesque Modernities. A Transcultural Enquiry into the Formation of the “Regionalist Style” in Architecture between Europe and South/Southeast/East Asia

Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context. The Dynamics of Transculturality’ (Global Art History), Heidelberg University

Abstract. This project aims to overcome the territorial determinants of nation-states and evolve a multi-polar concept of space in global art history. It recognises colonies not as containers for European style imports and transformations but as highly innovative laboratories for architectural ‘neo-styles’ (like the Indo-Saracenic style in British India, the Indische Style in the Dutch Indies or the Style Indochinois in Indochina) that themselves were constitutive in the formation of ‘regionalist styles’ in the European metropoles. By conceptualising all picturesque forms of ‘colonial styles’ in Asian and European architecture as a transcultural, process/agency-based phenomenon and by testing it in the Euro-Asian colonial arena between 1850 and 1950 with major focus of ‘German-China’ in comparison with Indochina, British-India and the Dutch-Indies, this project aims to reframe the discipline of art history by reconfiguring the concept of ‘style’, one of its analytical core categories.

International Conference (2016)
Picturesque Modernities. Architectural Regionalism as a Global Process (1890-1950)
30 November - 2 December 2016 (Deutsches Forum Kunstgeschichte, Paris)
Homepage (publication fortcoming, Presses Universitaires de Rennes)

International Conference (2015)
The Picturesque Eye. Investigating Regionalist Art Forms in late Empires
3-5 December 2015 (Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art, and Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna/Austria)

International Workshop (2014)
“Shared Built Heritage” reconsidered
(14 - 15 November 2014, Max-Planck-Institute Florence)


Publication project (2015)

Eine Zukunft für unsere Vergangenheit. Zum 40. Jubiläum des Europäischen Denkmalschutzjahres (1975-2015). A Future for Our Past. The 40th anniversary of European Architectural Heritage Year (1975-2015). Un Avenir pour Notre Passé. 40e Anniversaire de l'Année Européenne du Patrimoine Architectural (1975-2015). ICOMOS Austria
Publication informationToCfree download


Project Leader – Research Project (2009-2012)

Heritage as a Transcultural Concept - Angkor Wat from an Object of Colonial Archaeology to a Contemporary Global Icon

Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context. The Dynamics of Transculturality’ (Global Art History), Heidelberg University

Abstract: The project investigates the formation of the modern concept of cultural heritage by charting its colonial, postcolonial/nationalist and global trajectories. It does so through researching the case study of the Cambodian 12th century temple of Angkor Wat (Falser) as different phases of its history unfolded within the transcultural interstices of European and Asian projects and conceptual definitions: from its “discovery in the jungle” by French colonial archaeology in the 19th century to its canonisation as a symbol of national identity during struggle for decolonisation and under the postcolonial Khmer Rouge regime, and finally as a global icon of contemporary heritage schemes. A study of material traces and architectural forms as well as of literary and visual representations of the structure will be undertaken with a view to analysing processes of transfer and translation as well as the recent proliferation of hybrid art forms in the wake of the monument becoming a media icon.

International Workshop (2011)
“Rebirthing” Angkor? Heritage between Decadence, Decay, Revival and the Mission to Civilize
(8 –10 May 2011, Heidelberg University)

International Workshop (2010)
“Archaeologising” Angkor? Heritage between Local Social Practice and Global Virtual Reality
(2 –4 May, Heidelberg University)
HomepagePublication (free download here)

Internationale Tagung mit Arbeitskreises Theorie und Lehre der Denkmalpflege
Kulturerbe - Denkmalpflege: transkulturell
(29 September – 1 Oktober 2011, Universität Heidelberg)

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