How (Not) to “Study Up”: Points and Pitfalls When Studying International Heritage Regimes

Herdis Hølleland* (Corresponding Author), Elisabeth Niklasson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Archaeological fieldwork is no longer what it used to be. Over the last decades, archaeologists have begun to “study up”. Approaching regional, national, and international heritage regimes, they have empirically scrutinized how institutions and people in positions of influence shape what will count as “our common past” tomorrow. This has paved the way for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of contemporary heritage governance. It has also meant stepping onto a minefield of ethical and methodological challenges that archaeologists are often unprepared for. In this article, we address some of the points and pitfalls of investigating international heritage regimes, starting from our own experiences studying UNESCO and the EU and putting them in conversation with the experiences of other scholars studying up. By reflecting on the reasons for studying up, and discussing the hands-on challenges of access, anonymity, and research reception, we aim to promote a stronger and more transparent tradition of studying up in archaeology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-152
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

The article is in large part a result of our time working together at Stan- ford Archaeology Centre (SAC). Thus, Hølleland would like to thank the Research Council of Norway for its HUMEVAL grant (Grant number: 284384/F10 - ISPHUM: Støtte til forskergrupper 2018–2021) and Prof. Lynn Meskell for her invitation to SAC, both of which enabled her stay. We would also like to thank the reviewers for their detailed and constructive feedback on the draft paper.


  • EU
  • cultural heritage
  • fieldwork
  • heritage politics
  • methods
  • study up


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