Contested Landscapes/Contested Heritage : history and heritage in Sweden and their archaeological implications concerning the interpretation of the Norrlandian past

Sammanfattning: This case study explores how geo-political power structures influence and/or determine the conception, acceptance and maintenance of what is considered to be valid archaeological knowledge. The nature of this contingency is exemplified through an examination of how the prehistory of Norrland, a region traditionally considered and portrayed as peripheral vis-à-vis the centre-South, was interpreted and presented by Swedish archaeologists during the 20th century. This contextual situation is analysed through the implementation of three interrelated and complimentary perspectives; 1) The relationship between northern and southern Sweden is examined using concepts concerning the nature of colonialism, resulting in the formulation of 20 particulars that typify the colonial experience, circumstances that characterise the historical, and unequal, association that has existed between these two regions for the last 600 years. 2) Ideals of national identity and heritage as manufactured and employed by the kingdom and later by the nation-state, with the assistance of antiquarianism, archaeology and/or centralised cultural management, are outlined. The creation of these various concepts have reinforced and perpetuated the colonial and asymmetrical association between what has naturally come to be viewed as the peripheral-North and the centre-South. 3) A century of archaeological research into the Norrlandian past is studied using the concepts ‘thoughtstyle’ and ‘thought-collective’ as devised by Ludwik Fleck. This analysis disclosed a persistent set of reoccurring explanations that have constantly been invoked when interpreting and presenting the prehistory of Norrland. This archaeological thought-style has normalised the unbalanced power relationship between North and South that has existed for the last 600 years by projecting it far back into the prehistoric past. This case study has demonstrated that archaeologists, unless acutely aware of the historical context in which they themselves move and work, risk legitimising debilitating economic and political power relationships in the present through their study and presentation of the past.

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