Ethnic Minorities’ Heritage and Archaeological Resources Management : Roma people in Sweden since 1999

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Arkeologi

Abstract: At the end of 1999, the Swedish government adopted two European Union conventions to protect ethnic minorities, and Roma people were recognized as a national ethnic minority of Sweden. Approaching the 20th year mark after the recognition, this research aims to develop an in-depth and inclusive database for Roma people’s heritage and archaeological resources management. Analyzation of the collected data is based on the number, nature, and responsible organizations for the events. As a result, 48 events were recorded in the database under such a framework. A significant increase in events happened in the second decade (2010 to 2019) of the research period. 14 out of 21 counties in Sweden have participated in the topic and three excavations have been done in the past 20 years. Former Roma people’s settlements have been discovered in the western and eastern counties of middle Sweden. Therefore, it can be suggested that counties such as Södermanland and Västmanland have the geographic advantage to further discover new traces that have yet to be recorded. This thesis analyses the Bohuslän Museum’s exhibition Möt Resandefolket! as a case study due to its uniqueness as the only permanent exhibition about Roma people in the country. It includes a spatial analysis under Moser’s framework (2010) and experience analysis using the thick descriptive approach suggested by Geertz (1973). The interview with the museum’s archaeologist Kristina Lindholm connects the perspective from the exhibition curators and heritage mediators, while 3D modelling is also developed and used as a tool to understand the spatial context and the effectiveness of idea communication in the exhibition. As a result, the case study identifies two challenges in communicating Roma people’s heritage and culture: the limited resources in the material culture and the alienness raised in the exhibition. The causes and possible confrontations of these matters are discussed, followed by suggestions on how to improve the excavation agenda, digital preservation for intangible heritage, and new representation and presentation methods. There is also potential in turning alienness into a positive motivation which enables the exhibition to further fulfil its curiosity- and self-education attainment purpose. This thesis suggests that these ways of interpretation are effective means to illustrate and emphasize the uniqueness of a culture and to further appreciate the values in the ethnic minorities.

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