Elin Nystrand von Unge

Elin Nystrand von Unge

Vikarierande universitetslektor

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 E, plan 7
Room E768
Postal address 106 91 Stockholm 106 91 Stockholm

About me


This thesis is a study of contemporary collecting practices at museums of cultural history in Sweden. The study takes off from two questions: How is this practice of collecting understood at museums of cultural history today, and how are these modes of collecting effected when museums explicitly collect the “present” rather than the “past”? The aim is to examine how the present day has been collected, what modes of ordering were activated, as well as what relational effects contemporary collecting has had on the knowledge-building processes within the practice.

The overall theoretical framework of the study primarily stands on sociologist John Law’s understanding of actor network theory. The actor network model is used as a theoretical tool to understand how agency and processes of knowledge production work. In addition, theoretical concepts from memory studies, as well as theories on knowledge building processes, are applied.

Through four chapters, the modes or ordering the Time, the Collectors, the Objects, and the Ideas are examined. The material analysed shows that the cultural historical “hinterland” that shaped the modern museum have had lasting effects on museum-collecting at large, but also on contemporary collecting practices. However, the reversed is also true: Contemporary collecting often acts as an important tool to make the self-evident position of traditional collecting visible. As the act of collecting activates fundamental ethical and moral questions concerning time, place, and social conditions, the practice has had constant effects on museum work in general. Therefore, without an active and conscious collecting, the content of museum work is in risk of stagnating. It is not only through exhibitions and outreach work that museums should have a contemporary societal awareness, but the collecting practices also deserve a mental presence in public space. Stating this, a continued expansive collecting at museums of cultural history is a necessity, by which the general museum-work is pushed forward and expanded. To collect and record expressions of the same contemporary perspectives is here seen as an active way of dealing with the blinding effects of being in the present.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • Book (ed) Sprängskiss no 1
    2012. Elin Nystrand von Unge, Britta Söderqvist.

    Sprängskiss är en plattform vars ändamål är att ge perspektiv på museer och kulturarv. Genom olika textbaserade verk vill vi ställa frågor som rör museers praktiker, inuti och utanför museets väggar.

    Vi tror att svensk museisektor behöver duskutera, teoretisera och skriva om sig själv. Ett öppet samtal om sektorns värde och innehåll är nödvändigt för att museer ska vara angelägna för sin omvärld.

    Sprängskiss är ett sätt att bidra till den diskussionen.

Show all publications by Elin Nystrand von Unge at Stockholm University

Last updated: September 10, 2020

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