Sunday, 25 October 2015

How many archaeologists am I? Part 1: Finland

As my salaried researcher post in Sweden came to an end in the late spring, I was in the position to reflect on my time in Sweden and my new insights into an archaeological community I had the first long-term contact with in the 1990s when I was a committee member and the representative for archaeology students at Turku, Finland, in the Nordic Council for Archaeology Students. In between these two experiences I graduated from the University of Turku in Finland in Finnish and comparative archaeology, decided to change direction and start working within one of my minor disciplines, ‘classical archaeology’, in its pre-Roman Italian archaeology form, moved to England to do first an MA in Landscape Archaeology at Bristol and then a PhD at Cambridge and did fieldwork in Italy as a consequence.

Thus I have ended up in a situation where my professional and personal experience spans four European countries and four perceptions of being an archaeologist. I am still very involved in Finnish archaeology as the Editor-in-Chief of the Monographs of the Archaeological Society of Finland, even if I have not lived there for 16 years. Currently, I am seeing through the publication of an approved PhD thesis with a GIS-study of ritual sieidi sites. Even if I am in my own research dealing with the Latins, the Etruscans and the Faliscans in central Italy, I also still have to keep my eye on a wide selection of different research themes in Finland, Nordic countries and internationally. All my work is very fascinating, but constantly changing contexts and identities leaves me sometimes a little bit confused – especially when I think about the affiliation to any of the foreign research institutes in Rome. I am somewhere in a grey area between the Swedish Institute in Rome, the Institutum Romanum Finlandiae and the British School at Rome – and in practice spending a lot of time in Tram 19 between the Gianicolo Hill and Valle Giulia.

So am I an archaeologist in all four countries, Sweden, Finland, Britain and Italy? Yes and no is the answer, since these countries have different definitions for an archaeologist – in a professional sense. Volunteer archaeologists have existed alongside in all four, but in different kinds of roles and they have been accepted in different ways. In Britain I have also been a local field group member in Leicestershire and thus entered the archaeological community in a volunteer capacity – but in practice that role turned out to cross boundaries. So my position is different in every single country. In the end in the fourth installment, I will try to conclude and count the crucial number in my archaeological existence.

In Finland I have graduated and as a person having a certificate saying in writing I am an MA with a major in archaeology, I could apply a membership in the Archaeological Society of Finland (Suomen arkeologinen seura, SARKS, in Finnish). They checked my credentials and thus I am a validated archaeologist in Finland. Being a graduated archaeologist means that I can act as a director of excavations and I can apply research and excavations permits from the National Board of Antiquities within the antiquities law. A Finnish PhD student carrying out her PhD studies in archaeology in Britain has failed on this ground, since her major was not archaeology but geology. Thus, she has been unable to get research permits from the authorities. This may change, since she is doing scientific tests, but in principle so far she has not been perceived as an archaeologist in Finland, since she lacks the right degree. No matter how much her practical work is within the broad definition of archaeology. Nevertheless, I am one up. Yes, an archaeologist in Finland.

To be continued... Next time: Britain.

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