Anna Källén

Anna Källén


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Works at Department of Culture and Aesthetics
Visiting address Frescativägen 26
Room C 514
Postal address Institutionen för kultur och estetik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am Associate Professor in Archaeology with focus on Critical Heritage Studies. My doctoral thesis (Uppsala University 2004) was based on archaeological excavations in Laos. Working in Laos, I got interested in the uses and valuations of archaeological heritage in our contemporary society. Ever since, my research and teaching has been focused on Critical Heritage Studies – the study of how things, places and traditions of the past are valued and used in contemporary society.

I have worked with research and teaching at Stockholm University since 2006, and have been Honorary Visiting Fellow at University College London since 2009. I have worked at the Swedish History Museum and the National Museums of World Culture, and have been Secretary of the Swedish Archaeological Society. Between 2009 and 2015 I was Research Officer for an interdisciplinary research school for studies in cultural history (FoKult). I am currently Lead Investigator of the research project Code–Narrative–History, and work to build a research centre for Critical Heritage Studies at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics.


At the Department of Culture and Aesthetics I teach in the course "Kritiska kulturarvsstudier" at Bachelor level, and the courses "Kulturarv och kulturmiljövård" and "Kulturarv i globalt perspektiv" in the Master's program in Heritage Studies. 


In my research I study contemporary uses of archaeological sites, objects and narratives – mainly in Europe and Southeast Asia. I use an interdisciplinary approach, with research methods and perspectives drawn from Anthropology, Ethnology, Microhistory and the History of Ideas. Influenced by postcolonial theory, I have taken special interest in relations between heritage and hegemonic power, and in lingering social and political structures from the early 20th century in contemporary heritage practices.

These questions I have studied in three major research projects after my doctoral thesis. One was funded by Sida/SAREC and explored the relationships between archaeology, French colonialism and ecotourism in northern Laos. It resulted in the book "Stones Standing" (2015). The second project was run in collaboration with Johan Hegardt and funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. It was a microhistorical study of international archaeology through the 20th century, where we followed the Swedish-born archaeologist Olov R. T. Janse from Norrköping to Washington, DC, via Uppsala, Paris, Hanoi, Manila, and Harvard University. The ultimate results of this project will soon be published in a book with the title The Archaeologist In-Between. The third, ongoing project Code–Narrative–History is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (2018–2021). Together with Andreas Nyblom, Daniel Strand, and Charlotte Mulcare I study how research results from archaeogenetics become narratives of popular history.

Publications by selection


Källén, Anna; Charlotte Mulcare, Andreas Nyblom & Daniel Strand 2019. 'Archaeogenetics in Popular Media: Contemporary Implications of Ancient DNA'. Current Swedish Archaeology, vol 27, pp 69–91.

Källén, Anna (red.) 2019. Heritage and BordersKVHAA Konferenser 100. Stockholm: Vitterhetsakademien.

Källén, Anna 2019. 'Heritage and Borders: An Introduction'. Heritage and Borders, Red: Anna Källén. KVHAA Konferenser 100. Stockholm: Vitterhetsakademien, pp 7–12.

Källén, Anna & Johan Hegardt 2019. 'Arkeologen och avståndet'. Tidens landskap: en vänbok till Anders Andrén. Red: Cecilia Ljung, Anna Andreasson Sjögren, Ingrid Berg, Elin Engström, Ann-Mari Hållans Stenholm, Kristina Jonsson, Alison Klevnäs, Linda Qviström & Torun Zachrisson. Lund: Nordic Academic Press, pp 276–278.


Källén, Anna. 'När streckkoder blir identiteter och berättelser'Tidskriften Respons, vol 2, 2018. 


Källén Anna & Fredrik Krohn Andersson. 'Portik som politik'. Medusa 38:4, pp 2–7. 


Källén, Anna. Stones Standing: Archaeology, Colonialism and Ecotourism in Northern Laos. UCL Critical Heritage Studies Series. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.

Källén, Anna. 'Postcolonial Theory and Sámi Archaeology – A Commentary'. Arctic Anthropology, vol 52:2, pp 81–86.

Källén, Anna. 'Hintang and the Double-Bind Promise of Development'. Museums, Heritage, and International Development. Eds: Paul Basu & Wayne Modest. Routledge Studies in Culture and Development Series. London: Routledge. Pp 229–249.


Hegardt, Johan & Källén, Anna. 'Translated objects: The Olov Janse Case'. Museum Worlds, vol 2 (2014), pp 42–62.

Källén, Anna. 'The Invisible Archaeologist: Letters from the UNESCO secretariat 1946-1947'. Journal of Social Archaeology. 14(3), pp 383–405.

Källén, Anna & Hegardt, Johan. 'A Cosmopolitan History of Archaeology: The Olov Janse Case'. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology, Vol 24 (2014). DOI:


Källén, Anna (ed.) Making Cultural History. Essays from the Research School of Studies in Cultural History. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. (208 s)

Källén, Anna. 'Laos, Cultural Heritage Management in'. Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology. Springer Press.


Källén, Anna. 'A Plea for Critique – Comments on Bjørnar Olsen, "After Interpretation: Remembering Archaeology"'. Current Swedish Archaeology, vol 20, 2012, pp 61-66.

Källén, Anna. 'Hintang and the Dilemma of Benevolence'. Appropriating the Past: Philosophical Perspectives on the Practice of Archaeology II. Eds: Geoffrey Scarre & Robin Coningham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp 119-138.


Hegardt, Johan & Källén, Anna. 'Being through the past. Reflections on Swedish archaeology and heritage management'. In: Ludomir Lozny (Ed.). Comparative Archaeologies: A Sociological View of the Science of the Past. Springer Press. Pp 109–135.


Jakobsson, Mikael &  Källén, Anna. 'A Hobbling Marriage: on the relationship between the collections and the societal mission of the Historical Museum'. Current Swedish Archaeology, Vol 17, 2009, pp 151–164.


Källén, Anna. And Through Flows the River: Archaeology and the Pasts of Lao Pako. PhD dissertation at the Dept of Archaeology and Ancient History. Studies in Global Archaeology 6, Uppsala: Uppsala University.

(more publications in Academia)

Reviews of Stones Standing:

”Part travelogue, part field diary and part critique of the practices of archaeology and heritage conservation in Southeast Asia, Anna Källén has written an engaging and provocative book. It offers a frank reflection on the realities of fieldwork and the unforeseen intellectual trajectories that take form in the context of those realities.” – Denis Byrne, International Journal of Heritage Studies.

“The book has a well-rounded structure that comprises postcolonial and postmodern conditions, field experiences and gender bias. It contributes to the study of heritage tourism, ecotourism, archaeology and anthropology through its challenging topic and discussions. As such, this book deserves recognition by readers and researchers interested in critical studies.”
– Burcu Kaya, Journal of Heritage Tourism

”…for anyone interested in the contemporary meaning of ancient and modern cultural landscapes, and how these become pre-packaged commoditized heritage spaces, Källén’s short book offers much to think about. This is a thought-provoking book that deserves to be widely read […] by all interested in the history of archaeology, the impact of archaeological research in developing countries, and alternative forms of creative writing about the multiple meanings of the past in the present.” – Lindsay Lloyd-Smith, Archaeological Review from Cambridge

Last updated: April 15, 2020

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