Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies

The research in Museum and Cultural Heritage revolves around the concept of natural and cultural heritage and embraces tangible as well as intangible aspects of heritage with special focus on museums and cultural and natural landscapes. The concept of heritage might be described as a concept to study the past by using the present thereby seeing heritage as a process in which the research questions depend on disciplinary and professional experiences. For example, if you are an anthropologist your research might be about local participation and heritage, or if you are interested in pedagogic questions the research is on museum education, or if one is interested in the material world the research questions are focused on collection management and authenticity, or, as an ecological environmentalist your research is on the green heritage and “things that grow”. Museum and Cultural Heritage is thus a multidisciplinary research field with strong trans-disciplinary theoretical and methodological perspectives and research questions addressing a range of societal questions.

At the Department of ALM, there is a special competence within the research area of heritage and conflict with special attention to memory and reconciliation in post-conflict areas. Inherent in this research is also heritage in disaster areas and humanitarian action. The research project connected to this research consists of researchers from several disciplines namely from peace and conflict, religion, law, anthropology and heritage. A parallel research dimension deals with local actors’ participation in heritage projects and the local knowledge production. An example of this research is the World Heritage nomination processes and what happens with a place during and after the nomination, as well as, the study of tourist intensive areas.

At the Department there is also a special research interest in the material world as expressed in the cultural landscape with “forgotten places” and “elevated places” such as monuments and memorial sites. To this sphere of interest belongs also museum collection management where questions are being asked about authenticity, value and the narrative potential of collections as exhibition objects. Further important questions to discuss are which paths to take in regard of existing collections and future collecting practices in museums, not only because of the shrinking economic frames, but also because it has become more and more difficult to appraise and motivate what shall be conserved, how and why.

A new research for 2012 has been initiated at the Department and is related to the participation in the faculty research node Mind and Nature. One part of this research involves the technical tool of GIS (Geographical Information System) and how it can be used within heritage studies. GIS is about not only Where, but also Why, something is. It is a system for understanding and visualization of layers of information, and it describes the conditions of things. GIS will most highly be more and more important for both heritage studies and the professional market. Therefore, during 2012, the department will develop case studies for the ALM students and research questions related to the use of GIS within the field of museum and heritage studies.

Participating Researchers at the ALM:

Inga-Lill Aronsson (heritage & anthroplogy)

Anne-Christine Norlén (ethnology)