archaeologist in front of excavation

Contract archaeology and future sustainability studied in new research

One of the missions of contract archaeology is to contribute to a sustainable future. Ulrika Söderström, doctoral student in archaeology at the graduate school Grasca at Linnaeus University, studies how this is done in practice – and has come to the conclusion that there is development potential in sustainable development work within archaeology.

Ulrika Söderström has studied Swedish contract archaeology's conditions for contributing to sustainable development in practice, with particular focus on urban and rural development.

"The city planning project Valnötsträdet in Kalmar is a good example of how cultural heritage values and archaeological knowledge can be used in modern city planning. Multiple sectors worked together to create a new urban area", says Söderström.

However, Söderström's research shows that in other contexts there is a discrepancy between policy and practice; sustainability is not clearly defined in relation to Swedish contract archaeology, and considered to be a question for other political fields than the cultural heritage sector.

"There is a pronounced and explicit idea on how contract archaeology can contribute, but what is lacking are ideas on how this can be put into practice", Söderström continues.

Söderström's conclusion is that it is important to develop sustainability perspectives in relation to contract archaeology, and to collaborate with others.

"We need to talk about sustainable development in practice and how work within contract archaeology can be useful to a number of sectors. Collaboration with other actors is important. In my continued research, I will study how such collaborations can be outlined in practice", Söderström concludes.

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Ulrika Söderström is also working within the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University, which will work with heritage practitioners in finding answers to questions about the future, and in developing their own professional strategies for the future.