Cultural heritage issues are increasingly prevalent within public debate forums. Nations, minorities and indigenous peoples are invoking their cultural heritage in different contexts in order to justify and underscore their cultural, social and political aims. At present, northern Sweden is an arena for identity and ethnicity processes that have strong political overtones. The absence of research about the societies of the Iron and Early Middle Ages leaves the field open for essentialist and politically biased interpretations of archaeological findings and historical sources.
The aim of the research programme is to illuminate land use and societal change in northern Sweden’s coastal area during a period in which the cultural landscape was shaped by hunters, fishermen, reindeer herders and farmers with ethnic and cultural identities that do not directly translate to the modern images. Through an interdisciplinary collaboration encompassing archaeological, historical and ecological fields, studies are being made of land use, social and economic structures and inter-regional relations from the 7th to 20th centuries, with the results being related to present-day identity processes in northern Fennoscandia.