Centre for Advanced Study

at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

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  • Spraps of things left by the Germans in the POW camps in Norddal.

    The heritage of war

    In autumn 1944, Norddal, in the north of Troms County, was occupied by German army forces in retreat. They had brought with them an unknown number of Soviet prisoners, who were distributed among four prisoner-of-war (POW) camps. When the war ended, the camps were abandoned and their stories almost lost in time.

  • Robert Macfarlane in Greenland summer 2016. Photo: Helen Spenceley

    Articulating the Anthropocene

    We are Generation Anthropocene, according to Robert Macfarlane, who argues that our need for change seems to greatly exceed our capacity to make it happen.

  • In 2012, the Komafest art festival invited international artists to decorate houses in Vardø, Norway, to highlight some of the issues of depopulation. Photograph: Saphinaz-Amal Naguib

    Vardø’s rich street art scene: Will the city become an ecomuseum?

    In our first lunch-time seminar this spring, Professor Saphinaz-Amal Naguib took us to Vardø, Norway’s most north-easterly city, near the border with Russia. She introduced us to a rich street art scene that depicts the large-scale depopulation of this arctic city.

  • Hein B. Bjerck shared his reflections on the scorched things that survived a fire in his eighty-five-year-old uncle’s home in 2013. Photograph: Hein B. Bjerck

    Charred Memories: Ephemeral survivors in my uncle’s burnt-out home

    According to Hein Bjerck, cognitive memories of things in a home cannot be inherited, because they do not reside in the things themselves, but in the relations among things and personal mindscapes.

  • A recently abandoned apartment house in Nikel, Kola Peninsula. How does living with this ruining Soviet legacy affect the inhabitants, their prospects for the future, and how they remember the past, Bjørnar Olsen and his CAS research group asks photo: Bjørnar Olsen

    Life among Soviet ruins: – the past is still present

    Most people in Northwestern Russia and on the Kola Peninsula live in apartment blocks constructed during the time of Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev; many of these apartments are in a serious state of decay.

  • Savannah Georgia, pebblestones, Liverpoool, ballast

    Ballast: Loads with history

    Ballast, the material used to stabilize ships, is the object of study for archaeologist and CAS fellow Professor Mats Burström. He describes ballast in terms of being a ‘gigantic relocation of material’.

  • Demolition of Blok P. Photograph: Cartsen Ankiksdal

    Object Study: Blok P

    Blok P in Nuuk was built by the Danes in an effort to urbanise Greenland in the 1960s: one per cent of Greenland’s population have since called Blok P their home. It was demolished in 2012.

  • A shoe ‘growing back’ into nature: CAS fellow Dr Þóra Pétursdóttir explores 'drift matter' on Sværholt Peninsula in northern Norway, and argues that this kind of material must be taken seriously in archaeology. Photograph: Þóra Pétursdóttir

    We are not in control of the afterlife of things

    The plastic bag, which we estimate can last for up to five hundred years, shows that we are not in control of the afterlife of things, states CAS participant and postdoctoral fellow, Dr Þóra Pétursdóttir. She argues that plastic, shoes, fishing nets and all kinds of materials found along the world’s shores must be understood as part of our ‘environment’.

  • Filosofene Camilla Serck-Hansen og Frode Kjosavik

    Beyond the limits of science

    - We learnt from Kant that science has a tendency to go beyond its own limits, Professor Camilla Serck-Hanssen says. She is working on the oldest, most basic philosophical questions that to untrained minds might seem unanswerable. Together with Professor Frode Kjosavik she leads a metaphysical research project at CAS, pursuing questions that science cannot answer.

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