Checking in with some co-students from 1996

The archaeology department at Uni Stockholm published the anthology series Aktuell Arkeologi with eight volumes from 1979 to 2004. The series editor was Åke Hyenstrand. To be precise, he edited the first volume while working at the National Heritage Board’s Stockholm headquarters, and then presided over vols 2-8 after he became Chair of Archaeology at the university in 1987. The last volume appeared the year after Hyenstrand’s retirement.

(The title means ”Current Archaeology”, and since 1993 there has been an English-language annual titled Current Swedish Archaeology. It is nominally published by the Swedish Antiquarian Association, but that organisation has no physical office and all of its editors have been affiliated with Uni Stockholm.)

Aktuell Arkeologi was mainly a venue for the department’s most active PhD students to present their projects and gain some publishing experience. Up until a 1998 reform of higher education, humanities and social sciences departments would have lots of unfunded PhD students whose status as actual candidates was often hazy. The ones who published in Aktuell Arkeologi were more committed than most.

Let’s look at what happened to the nine scholars (including me) who contributed to vol. V in 1996.

  • Only four have achieved a doctorate. Of the other five, two died young.
  • Only one has achieved a steady academic job comparable to US tenure (not me).
  • Only three have more than 35 publications in our main bibliographic database, VITALIS. None of them has tenure. One of these productive writers didn’t graduate from the PhD programme, but he has been a contract archaeologist and his ”grey literature” excavation reports are also in the database.
  • Only three have published in the past five years. All have ”PhD” after their names.

Author: Martin R

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

10 thoughts on “Checking in with some co-students from 1996”

  1. “The emperor of maladies ” is very slowly being pushed back by improved understanding of how the cells work at the molecular level.
    Do not expect sudden breakthroughs. Having said that, the survival statistics steadily get better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s hard to make it in the academy. Out of seven students in my Fall 1999 University of Alabama anthropology masters class three got PhDs and only one became a tenured professor. Another is the director of the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey, however. The survey is associated with the University of Oklahoma.


      1. The MA is seen quite differently in the US and Europe. In Sweden it’s just the standard uni degree, and then you’re done. In the US, someone with an MA is halfway through “grad school” and there is a sense that if you don’t go on to a PhD then you’re dropping out of something.


  3. Academia is not a path to status and wealth.
    -This does not prevent political demagogues to talk trash about “liberal elites” in the universities.
    And as universities in USA increasily are organised around the corporate model, the wage increases tend to go to the administrators
    (These administrators BTW often proved themselves indifferent to employee safety during the pandemic).
    Anyway, human progress depends on those who follow their passion.


  4. Regarding hard-to-treat diseases;
    I added a link about new Alzheimers meds at Open Thread for June .


  5. Actually an MA in the U.S. is less than halfway through grad school, at least in years. In academia, masters degrees have less than much of any meaning at all, though in archaeology they do allow you to work at a higher level in contract work. My friend Loren who is in his 50s is stuck at crew chief, even though he has tons of experience and knowledge, as he has no MA. So there is no “Ph Degree” ( as they say in yer ‘Bammer) in Sweden? Are you not a doctor? Seems strange from an American perspective.


    1. Excuse me for explaining poorly. I was trying to say that it is not surprising that 3/7 anthro MA students went on to a PhD, because in the US an MA student has climbed the big conceptual fence into “grad school”. In Sweden, the big fence is between the MA and the PhD. Pretty much everyone in Sweden has an MA these days, but very few go on to a PhD.

      I got a BA in 1992, used it to get onto the PhD programme and got my PhD in 2003. Though still theoretically possible, in practice nobody gets onto the PhD programme without an MA after the 1998 reform alluded to above.


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