Histcon.se Time, Memory and Representation Tid, Minne, Representation

A Multidisciplinary Program on Transformations in Historical Consciousness

Ett mångdisciplinärt forskningsprogram om historiemedvetandets förvandlingar

Mats Burström

Professor of Archaeology, Stockholm University

Biography

B. 1962. Professor of Archaeology, Stockholm University (SU). PhD from SU in 1991 with the dissertation Arkeologisk samhällsavgränsning combining large-scale spatial and quantitative analyses with an interpretative approach. His research then developed in the direction of focusing the multitude of meanings that material remains from the past have been ascribed in different contexts. Lately he has been instrumental in establishing the archaeology of the contemporary past as a field of research in Scandinavia. Publications within this field include the textbook Samtidsarkeologi. Introduktion till ett forskningsfält (2007) and several case studies dealing with sites such as a car cemetery, a World War 2 refugee camp, and a Soviet nuclear missile site in Cuba from the 1962 world crisis.

Ongoing research

Within the program he has explored belongings buried by refugees from Estonia during the Second World War, and how these objects with time became treasured memories for those who could not return to their native country. He has also discussed how fragments as a category may be important not in spite of their fragmentariness, but because of it. Fragments point to something beyond the whole of which they once formed a part, hinting at a larger complexity of reality. These studies challenge how archaeology is usually understood in temporal-historical terms as well as its reconstructive character. A study in preparation deals with ballast as a concrete material necessary to keep ships stable on one hand, while on the other also being a metaphor for the way in which the past influences us in different ways. The study draws together historical-philosophical arguments about the past as a resource or a burden for the living, and explorations of different archaeological contexts where ballast has been found and interpreted. While not artefacts in the common sense of the word, enormous amounts of stones have been transported all over the globe as ballast. Recognizing ballast stones as an archaeological material destabilizes the standard division between artefacts and natural objects. Burström is part-time funded by the program and co-funded by Stockholm University.

Selected bibliography

– 2009. Looking into the recent past. Extending and exploring the field of archaeology. Current Swedish Archaeology, Vol. 15-16. Pp. 21-36.
– 2009. Garbage or heritage. The existential dimension of a car cemetery. In: Contemporary Archaeologies. Excavating Now. (Eds) Holtorf, C. & Piccini, A. Peter Lang. Frankfurt am Main. Pp. 131-143.
– 2009. Selective remembrance. Memories of a Second World War refugee camp in Sweden. Norwegian Archaeological Review, Vol. 42/2. Pp. 136-149.
– 2009. (with eight co-authors) Memory of a world crisis. The archaeology of a former Soviet nuclear missile site in Cuba. Journal of Social Archaeology, 2009, issue 3. Pp. 295-318.
– 2012. Treasured Memories. Tales of buried belongings in wartime Estonia. Nordic Academic Press. Lund.
– 2013. Fragments as something more: archaeological experience and reflections. In: Reclaiming Archaeology. Beyond the Tropes of Modernity. (Ed.) Gonzaléz- Ruibal, A. Routledge. London & New York. Pp. 311-322.
– 2013. If we are quiet, will things cry out? Current Swedish Archaeology. Pp. 41-45.

– 2009. Looking into the recent past. Extending and exploring the field of archaeology. Current Swedish Archaeology, Vol. 15-16. Pp. 21-36.

– 2009. Garbage or heritage. The existential dimension of a car cemetery. In: Contemporary Archaeologies. Excavating Now. (Eds) Holtorf, C. & Piccini, A. Peter Lang. Frankfurt am Main. Pp. 131-143.

– 2009. Selective remembrance. Memories of a Second World War refugee camp in Sweden. Norwegian Archaeological Review, Vol. 42/2. Pp. 136-149.

– 2009. (with eight co-authors) Memory of a world crisis. The archaeology of a former Soviet nuclear missile site in Cuba. Journal of Social Archaeology, 2009, issue 3. Pp. 295-318.

– 2012. Treasured Memories. Tales of buried belongings in wartime Estonia. Nordic Academic Press. Lund.

– 2013. Fragments as something more: archaeological experience and reflections. In: Reclaiming Archaeology. Beyond the Tropes of Modernity. (Ed.) Gonzaléz- Ruibal, A. Routledge. London & New York. Pp. 311-322.

– 2013. If we are quiet, will things cry out? Current Swedish Archaeology. Pp. 41-45.

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