Photo: Peter Connelly
Written by Suzie Thomas (Tero Juutilainen, ed.)
Interdisciplinary approach to cultural heritage
I am involved in several areas of research at present. I am a researcher on the Academy of Finland project “Lapland’s Dark Heritage”, involving researchers from the Universities of Helsinki and Oulu. In this project we aim to find out about the many different ways in which people, both local and further afield, engage with and respond to the cultural heritage legacy of the German presence in Finnish Lapland during World War 2. We draw from diverse subject specialisms such as archaeology, museology, ethnology and criminology – and it is this sort of interdisciplinary research that I particularly enjoy. I will be working full time on this project from September 2015 for 20 months, so chance to get really stuck in.
I also recently started a small exploratory project on museums security with my colleague Dr Louise Grove, who is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Social Policy at Loughborough University, UK. We have selected a small sample of museums in England and Finland at which to carry out interviews with people representing different roles and responsibilities within the museums. Hopefully after this initial phase we can develop it into a bigger project. We hope to develop it into a bigger project following this initial phase.
Other than that, I have been busy in recent months developing a range of different funding proposals – often involving collaboration with colleagues from across Europe and even further away, so I am hopeful that at least some of these possible ideas will come into fruition.
One of my enduring interests is the phenomenon of hobbyist metal detecting, and its impact on archaeology. For my PhD I researched the relationships between archaeologists and metal detectorists in England and Wales, and I continue to maintain active links with colleagues across Europe also interested in metal detecting and the connected issues. This has included joining the advisory panel for the MEDEA project in Belgium, which is developing a finds database for metal-detected objects from Flanders. I also frequently respond to media requests for information about the hobby, and have been known to write the odd news article on the subject as well as more academic material.
The metal detecting hobby is growing in Finland, presenting both potential benefits and serious challenges to the cultural heritage sector. For me, it is an important, and very interesting, time to be in Finland and to witness how things develop.
Suzie Elizabeth Thomas
Born 5th March 1979, Nottingham, United Kingdom.
BA (Hons) Archaeology and Prehistory 2000, University of Sheffield
MA (Heritage Education and Interpretation) 2002, PhD (Heritage Studies) 2009 from Newcastle University
University Lecturer, University of Helsinki (2014–present)
Research Associate 2012–2014, University of Glasgow
Community Archaeology Support Officer 2009–2012, Council for British Archaeology
Community Archaeology, Museology, Cultural Heritage and Crime, ‘Alternative’ perspectives on cultural heritage, Voluntarism in museums.