Early Networking in Northern Fennoscandia

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Former 2008/2009 Humanities - Theology

Abstract

Through a number of interdisciplinary case studies the project will provide an in-depth study of the processes involved in the emergence, development and changes in prehistoric and early historic networks across northern Fennoscandia. Contacts and interaction between distinct groups across northern Fennoscandia have existed at least for the past 8000 years. These multicultural contacts are central to interpretations within many disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences. Never-the-less the development and working of the networks are poorly understood, which is all the more unfortunate, as they eventually gave rise to the present, multi-cultural situation in the region. The emphasis will be on the period 6000 BC to 1600 AD, covering the initial contact between distinct regional groups up to the transition to reindeer herding. Thus the focus is on the northern hunter-gatherer-fisher societies, their interaction with each other and later with neighbouring agricultural groups, which gradually developed into state societies. The main point of interest is the investigation of the dynamics of the resident groups and of the constituting processes and consequences of their active and strategic involvement in regional and interregional networks. While more traditional studies have focused on cultural and linguistic entities, our starting point will be the material and linguistic variability on different scales. By breaking down supposed entities into any number of separate connections documented in available data, we seek more detailed and nuanced insight into the substances of regional and interregional networks in order to be able to explore the motivation, processes and socio-cultural consequences of these contacts. It is therefore necessary to gather, coordinate and analyse archaeological, historical, linguistic data from across northern Fennoscandia, as well as comparative ethnoarchaeological and ethnohistorical data in order to implement a more truly interdisciplinary and international approach. The project will in particular explore the potentials of actor-network-theory and cultural transmission theory for analyses of constituting processes and organisation of early Fennoscandian networks. The trajectory investigated in the project provides the background for an understanding of the modern ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity in northern Fennoscandia.

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