Vivian Smits is doctoral student at Grasca – graduate school in contract archaeology.
Selection of archaeological finds, their use and relevance for contemporary society are currently hot topics in heritage management in Sweden. With contract archaeology as a point of departure, but with the eyes of the conservator, I look into the processes that transform material culture into cultural heritage in museum collections with the aim to increase the relevance of archaeological heritage for a wider public.
In regard to the making of cultural heritage as a social practice – whereas heritage emerges as the effect of social relations between actors and actants – I use Actor-Network-Theory as a framework in order to identify and understand actor negotiations and their consequences. My research includes a review on organisation structure in regard to existing legislation and guidelines in order to identify system-specific areas in need of improvement. In addition to this, contemporary selection processes are compared to existing collections by means of a case study combining quantitative and qualitative data base analysis. In combination with a user-survey among archaeologists finds processing, the case study identifies a specific 21st century signature for contract archaeology on the composition of archaeological collections.
By improving existing processes I hope my research will unite the different actors in the heritage making process, in order to secure a relevant cultural heritage.