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Bind II

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Bind I

No posts published in this language yet
Once posts are published, you’ll see them here.
Image by Dana Ward

The subject history project

Since 2006, the Norwegian Anthropological Association has been working on a project with the working title "Faghistorieprosjektet". The subject history project holds many possibilities, and we are just getting started. In the next couple of years, we will interview as many as possible among those who can be said to make up the first two generations in the profession, and the process will necessarily have to continue after that as well. We also welcome good ideas for how the project can be further developed, and of course also offers for volunteering.

Background for the project:

The association's board thought it was time to take the consequence that there are more and more reasons to look back at our own professional history. One of them is pure necessity. In recent years, we have unfortunately experienced the loss of more than Georg Henriksen. Another reason for prioritizing subject historical work is the obvious fact that many people are very interested in the development of the subject. To varying degrees, we have all had access to the oral narratives and myths about what happened in the constituent phase, and we all create our own primeval time in relation to our own entry into the subject. For my own part, I've heard a lot of interesting things about the "attic gang", but also a lot of other things that have hardly been systematically taken care of. I started studying social anthropology at the University of Bergen in 1985, and the department was full of stories and memories that today, in my eyes, seem increasingly relevant to document. When I came to Oslo in 1990, contemporary life was for many purposes set in relief by life "in the barracks". The institute moved to Eilert Sundt's house in 1989, and for a long time had been housed in one of the barracks (from the days of the war) in the overcrowded Blindern area. Professional life "at the barracks" was described and represented through stories that bore witness to a form of community, to spontaneity - and of course creativity. Memories and stories of this kind have been seen to a far too great extent, yet understandably, as part of the first two generations' personal and somewhat private narrative.

The subject-historical interest is of course also linked to the fact that it is half a century since the social anthropological interest among the marginal group of students at the museum was aroused. During the time that has passed, ruptures, generational changes and other changes have taken place which make the roads into our own time seem increasingly unclear, fascinating - but still oh so oral. Finally, it should be emphasized that others than ourselves should also have access to material that can shed light on social anthropology's spectacular development and importance in Norwegian academic life and in society at large. The subject has a history that can be contextualized in a number of different ways, for example as the extended arm of the Enlightenment in Norway.


The board of the association has believed that the Norwegian Anthropological Association can play an important role in professional historical work because we represent a larger community than the individual institutes, and can therefore draw on more forces, even more enthusiasm and in that way contribute to our common history becoming our common good and common project. The association's board is very pleased that the new pair of editors at Norwegian Anthropological Journal are enthusiastic about the idea of publishing part of the interviews, and creating a separate section in the journal for this purpose. We hope that this will sharpen the readers' appetite for subject history and thus contribute to the project having an interesting future life. It is time to create the right conditions so that our own subject-historical lines can be explored more systematically, that they become accessible to as many people as possible, and that they can be explored with the perspective we ourselves use when we study "the Others".

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