No One's Business: Negotiating the Value of Archiving Archaeology in Sweden

Isto Huvila


Drawing from two empirical studies of the stakeholders of archaeological information in Sweden, this presentation discusses why the archiving of archaeology easily becomes no one's business. Comparing the Swedish situation to international examples of how mandatory depositing of various types of archaeological information has been organised and the interests of the stakeholders of archaeological archives, it is argued that the heterogeneity of archaeological information and the large spectrum of its potential stakeholders is a major, perhaps the most significant impediment of organising the management of archaeological archiving in a comprehensive manner even in cases where the situation is generally considered to be good. In Sweden, the stakeholders of the archaeological information process are focusing on different aspects of information (including various forms of tabular and geographic data, written documents, photographs, illustrations, objects, administrative documents) while no one has a comprehensive responsibility to manage the entire process. At the same time, on a practical level, the understanding of the information, how it is used and what are the responsibilities of other stakeholders varies considerably. An international comparison of archiving policies show that even if the Swedish situation can be characterised as problematic, it is far from being unique.

The presentation is bringing together findings from an interview study of Swedish professionals involved in the process of managing and archiving archaeological documentation and information, a survey study of the stakeholders of archaeological data outside of archaeology and an international comparison of the practices of managing archaeological data outside of Sweden. The work has been conducted as a part of the Swedish Research Council funded research project “Archaeological Information in the Digital Society”.