The latest issue of Current Swedish Archaeology is out, and in addition to a book review and two research articles, there is a keynote by Søren M. Sindbæk called ‘Pirates in the Age of Populism‘ exploring two Viking exhibitions in Stockholm and Copenhagen and taking them to task for their content and character in relation to themes of consumerism and populism.
Sindbæk’s critical evaluations of the two displays are joined by six comments by Caroline Owman, Chris Tuckley, Hakon Glorstad, Matthias Toplak, Fredrik Svanberg and… me! A reply by Sindbæk responds to some of the issues they raise.
I haven’t seen the exhibitions in question, but I raise concerns regarding how we evidence and present such critiques, how we contextualise them in relation to other museums and heritage sites, and how we situate museums and heritage sites in relation to broader fields of public archaeology and heritage for the Viking Age. In particular, I address what we do about the situation moving forward. In this regard, I herald two forthcoming book chapters in which I make the case for the new for a discrete subfield of interdisciplinary research to tackle and critique Vikingisms in our recent and contemporary world which I suggest we call ‘Public Viking Research’.
Together, this is a constructive discussion of how we consider and present the Viking Age in contemporary museums and popular culture more broadly. I feel Sindbæk’s piece, the six comments and his reply should be essential reading for students of Viking studies. I certainly hope it will foster ongoing discussions regarding the role of museums, heritage sites and other media in the reproduction of our ‘Viking Ages’ and ‘Viking worlds’. In particular, I feel the conversation needs to extend beyond Scandinavia and tackle the digital realm more directly and critically.
I would like to take this opportunity for thanking the CSA editors for inviting me to contribute.