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Introduction on the Swedish Archaeological Society

A Note from the Editors

To begin with we would like to welcome you to our first volume as editors of Current Swedish Archaeology, and to thank Anders Högberg and Fredrik Fahlander for their many years of dedication to the journal. We, Sophie Bergerbrant and Alison Klevnäs, were appointed as editors in May 2018 and are pleased to be carrying forward the journal which showcases many of Swedish archaeology’s most exciting contributions to international research and debate.

2018 was a year with the climate crisis never far from the headlines. In Sweden a summer of drought and forest fires brought the sense of threat closer to home than ever before. With this background, we find the place of humans in the environment recurring as an important theme in many of the contributions to this volume.

The keynote article is adapted from Felix Riede’s inaugural lecture as professor with special responsibilities in the field of environmental humanities at Aarhus University. Riede argues that archaeologists, with our deep time perspectives on changing climates and human impacts, are well placed to contribute to the growing field of the environmental humanities, and specifically to discussion of ethical concerns around the environment. The comments by Poul Holm, Paul Lane, Brit Solli, Christina Fredengren, Julia Shaw and Andrew Roddick all generally sympathize with Riede’s ideas but also propel some critique. Several use their comments to expand on and deepen the theme. Among the topics raised are religion, the environment and health; temporal ontologies and future-making; and learning, teaching, and communicating the environmental humanities field.

Three of the five research articles are also directly concerned with humans in our environments. Christina Fredengren brings critical posthumanist theory to meet early Irish textual sources and archaeological finds of bodily remains and artefacts placed as deposits in lakes and rivers. Exploring the agential powers of waters observed as alive by past people, she aims to offer research which can entice us to sharpen our environmental sensibilities and respond to environmental change.

Did Mesolithic people live only by the coasts or did they also interact with other environments? Axel Mjærum raises questions about the range of environments known and understood by some of the earliest occupants of post-glacial Scandinavia. Moving away from the traditional focus on coastal settlement, use of inland and forest in the Mesolithic is explored through the recently excavated site of Eidsberg in eastern Norway, showing a much wider familiarity with the hinterland than previously recognized.

Anna Wessman follows a different path into human interactions in the natural world, through human-animal relations. Investigating animal motifs in Bronze Age rock carvings from the Enköping and Norrköping areas in Sweden, she shows how these depictions worked as carriers of semiotic resources, often centring wild rather than domestic animals, but deeply implicated in human concerns.

Two further papers explore theoretical and methodological topics of current interest. Tim Flohr Sørensen asks what drives archaeology: new empirical discoveries, new methods or new theory? Tapping into current discussions on the nature of archaeological change, he revolts against the widely perceived need for novelty, originality and impact, and argues for archaeology as a material philosophy permeable to borrowing and returning of theory from and to other disciplines. And from a fieldwork perspective, Åsa Ottosson Berggren and Anders Gutehall discuss the ever-growing use of digital archaeology in developer-funded archaeology. They cover both positive and negative sides to this digital turn, emphasizing the need for transparency at all stages, since methods have significant impacts on interpretation.

In the past Current Swedish Archaeology has often carried reviews of recent books, as well as from time to time notices of ongoing excavations or other events of national and international interest. Book reviews are of publications in Swedish or other Scandinavian languages, to make them known to a wider audience.

In this volume three recent PhD theses are reviewed. These are Anna Röst’s 2016 work on fragmentation practices in the mortuary rites of Late Bronze Age and Pre-Roman Iron Age central Sweden; Johnny Karlsson on Viking-Age and medieval bone and antler crafting and exchange networks in the Mälaren region, also from 2016; and Anna Sörman’s 2018 publication on the spatial, social, and political organisation of metalworking in southern Scandinavia during the Bronze Age.

Finally this volume also includes a short notice by Petra Aldén Rudd, presenting the story of the Swedish #metoo call for action in archaeology known as #utgrävingpågår (‘ongoing excavations’). This outcry has prompted the Swedish Archaeological Society (Svenska Arkeologiska Samfundet) to carry out a survey asking if increased awareness of harassment has led to policy changes among employers in the field of archaeology. The Society is also organising a conference on the issue on 21-23 November 2019 in Växjö, together with Department of Cultural Sciences at Linnaeus University.

For the next edition, the editorial team of Current Swedish Archaeology will be expanded with a Reviews Editor to further sustain and develop this aspect of the journal’s work. The position will be filled by Daniel Sahlén.

Questions of funding, open access, and suitable digital platforms remain all too actual for Scandinavian scholarly journals and not least for CSA. The National Library of Sweden (Kungliga Biblioteket) has recently published 16 recommendations for supporting open access publishing (16 rekommendationer för Öppen tillgång, KB 19 March 2019). Meanwhile the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) has produced a major report (Vägval för framtidens forskningssystem, VR 2019) with 12 main pointers for their goal of world-class research. We hope that both of these will stimulate positive change.

Sophie Bergerbrant and Alison Klevnäs, editors
June 2019


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Ett skepp kommer lastat...
CSA now welcomes contributions for the 2020 and 2021 volumes. The deadline for each year is the end of March. Please see Authors for more details on how to write for CSA.
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