Outland, centre, periphery and world systems theories. Some remarks from a Swedish perspective

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I started with a rather superficial overview of some of the problems that medieval archaeologists have to face when they try to study marginal areas, marginal in the view of those who are living near the political and economic power on one level or another. We can formulate the problems in centre-periphery models but we have also discussed some kind of world system thinking (which of course is connected to centre-periphery thinking). The important point is that the study of marginal areas – outland or whatever you wish to call them – is not only a study of human conditions in harsh areas with a complicated economy for survival, but they are also regions with their own resources and the ability to form independent ways of living, social and cultural formation. They are not isolated territories. They were influenced from the outside and also sought-after because of their natural riches.
The studies presented here have all touched on some of these problems. Some of the authors have been quite engaged in problems concerning power over the landscape and the struggle between exogenous and indigenous powers, how the efforts from outside to take control were met by resistance, but also how the exogenous powers were quite flexible in their choice of methods for gaining control. In that respect the building of a castle has a special role, but this option was not always used.
There are also examples of studies which are closer to the household level and which have given the possibility to formulate ideas about the social and economic organisation in this kind of region.
The studies also show the possibility of using archaeological material to obtain more varied knowledge of regions that are seldom mentioned in the written sources.
The conclusion is that there is an important research field to formulate the social, cultural, political and economic role of areas called marginal, peripheries and other such problematic designations. The medieval archaeologist has a serious task to carry out here.-
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWider das "finstere Mittelalter". Festschrift für Werner Meyer zum 65. Geburtstag. Schweizer Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters. Band 29
EditorsM.Letizia Heyer-Boscardin
PublisherSchweizerischer Burgenverein
ISBN (Print)3-908182-13-1
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Archaeology

Free keywords

  • world system
  • medieval archaeology
  • landscape archaeology
  • periphery
  • outland


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