Farewell to Fornvännen

Yesterday was my last day as Managing Editor for Fornvännen, Journal of Swedish Antiquarian Research (est. 1906). I started in April of 1999 and so I’ve been involved in 20 annual volumes of the quarterly, almost 80 issues. It’s been fun, and a great education!

From the start I purposely grabbed as much responsibility as I could. A main reason was sheer careerism: I needed a better platform in academic archaeology than the shaky one I had as a PhD student. Another reason was that originally I was paid by the hour, so the more work the better. Fornvännen has been my one steady source of income for all these years. The Royal Academy of Letters is a very good employer and takes care of its people.

The Fornvännen editorship was the one big occasion where academic nepotism worked for me rather than against me. My thesis supervisor got me the job when I was only 27. As for being an academic platform, it certainly gave me more professional recognition and expanded my contact network enormously. But through the years I found that academic job application referees didn’t value the editorship very highly.

An unexpected drawback was that good editors make enemies in their line of daily work. One influential professor apparently became my sworn Nemesis after I turned down an exceptionally bad debate piece of hers. I guess it’s give and take: without the editorship far fewer colleagues would know who I am today, but fewer would also bear a grudge against me.

Still, the editorship was fun and valuable to me through the years, just in itself. But I always also saw it as a means to an end: tenure. In 2016-17 I finally came to accept how little meritocracy there is on the massively over-populated academic labour market in the Scandinavian Humanities, how gross the nepotism is there. I abandoned all ambition in that direction. And I’ve grown quite tired of copy editing and proofreading. So in February I told my co-editor friends that I’d do the four issues for 2018 and then resign on November 30.

I look forward to seeing what my highly qualified successor Dr. Peter Carelli, Editor-in-Chief Prof. Mats Roslund and the other eminent members of the editorial board will do with the journal. I wish Peter a long, happy editorship!



Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

2 thoughts on “Farewell to Fornvännen”

  1. There is no shame and much honour in being an incorruptible person of integrity who upholds standards. But yes, it earns you powerful enemies and ultimately limits your career trajectory, something which aggravates my innate misanthropy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In my field, journal editors are usually senior academics, with the occasional government lab scientist. One of the good reasons for this is that senior academics are usually tenured professors, who therefore have less to worry about in terms of accumulating enemies being a career-limiting move (this also applies to civil servants). It’s an unfortunate aspect of human nature, but it is what it is.

    Then again, in my field editing journals and refereeing papers is typically a volunteer position. An editor of a major journal may sometimes be invited to editorial meetings, and have that travel paid for (except for civil servants, whose travel cannot be paid for by anybody who isn’t the government). And of course editors get an advance view of cutting edge research in the field. But that is the extent of the perks.


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