Department of Archaeology and Ancient History

Anneli Ekblom

anneli.ekblom@arkeologi.uu.se

My main research interest the last years been has centred on socio-environmental dynamics; an interdisciplinary study residing in the intersection between Environmental History, Historical Ecology and Archaeology. The past is in my view is an experimental lab, meaning that many of the options that are presently available to us, whether it comes to environmental management, sustainability or policy issues have been tested and tried in the past.

My Ph D thesis (Ekblom 2004) presented an analysis of the socio-environmental history of a village, Chibuene, situated in coastal Mozambique and this work has been expanded recently submitted paper (Ekblom 2008, Ekblom 2012, Ekblom et al 2014). I am currently involved in a VR project that looks on the long term socio-environmental history of Limpopo National Park, Mozambique (Ekblom, Gillson, Notelid 2011) as also a number of other projects, see below.

Projects

Ekologiska rum Mälardalen (The ecological dynamics of places in Mälardalen)

The project, aims to analyse and synthesise the current knowledge on palaeo-ecology, human transformations of the landscape and ecological dynamics in the Mälar valley. Archaeological excavations and palaeoecological work carried out in connection with contract archaeology. A further analysis of this data is of vital importance for several reasons. Firstly, it will give an enhanced understanding of places and landscapes in which people have acted over time. The archaeological material in combination with the palaeoecological data also offers possibilities to better understand the long term ecological dynamics of these different landscapes – for instance when it comes to the management of meadows and grazing areas in the past and present – the historical understanding offers unique possibilities to study the connection between management practices and biological diversity. See also http://www.arkeologi.uu.se_copy/Forskning/Projekt/Gamla_Uppsala/

Landscape transformations and socio-ecological management in Limpopo National Park, Mozambique.

The project is funded by VR 2012-2015 (collaborations Michel Notelid and Rebecca Witter). We use archaeology, anthropology and paleoecology to analyse the long-term and contemporary socio-natural dynamics in Limpopo National Park (PNL) and lower Limpopo Valley, Mozambique. PNL is an area constituted by a very high vulnerability to climatic variability (socially and biologically) but with a long and continuous occupation by a mosaic of farmers, pastoralists as well as hunter and gatherers since at least 800 AD. Our project addresses three main research questions: How have past and current resource management practices contributed to shape the PNL landscape over time? How have historical shifts in socio-environmental relationships contributed to shape social and biological resilience and vulnerability and what can we learn from this when it comes to building resilience today? How can landscape history contribute to improving equity and sustainability in conservation management and what can we learn from this example internationally?

Our aim is to inform and improve conservation and heritage decision-making in PNL. As part of the population is now being obliged to move from the park we have started to document the cultural landscapes in collaboration with these communities. As the park is under construction currently we also have the ability to both follow and shape the process of resettlement, conservation and collaboration, through integrated research and learning about long term and present day socio-environmental relationships in the PNL landscape. This requires a conceptual frame that allows us to work with different stakeholders, audiences and different types of data, all of which are socially situated; an issue that we hope will provoke some ideas and reflections from the seminar. See project webpage. http://www.arkeologi.uu.se_copy/Forskning/Projekt/landscape-transformations/

Long term landscape dynamics of the Southern Africa savanna

The development of tools for fine-tuning climate projection models, biome-shift predictions and land cover change is of crucial relevance for decision making and policy formulation with respect to biodiversity, livelihood security and social planning. This project is still in its initial phase and has received funding from Sanord and SSESS. The long term aims of this project are to: 1) provide long-term reconstructions of biome-shift dynamics in southern Africa and study its inter-relationship with climatic variability and landcover/land use change. Such data will provide essential tools for monitoring, mitigating and predicting the rate and direction of biome and micro-biome changes, 2) provide data for fine-tuning climate-model projections for southern Africa, a region where climate proxies remain limited, climatic variability is high and rainfall variability is a serious constraint for livelihoods. Available regional climate models are contradictory and unable to predict rainfall, which has direct implications for societies that could potentially be assisted by climate forecasting. The proposal springs from an ongoing inter-institutional and cross-disciplinary collaboration between Swedish (Elin Norström, Bert Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University; Anneli Ekblom. Departments of Archaeology and Ancient History, and Geosciences, Uppsala University) and South African researchers (Lindsey Gillson, Plant Conservation Unit, University of Cape Town; Jemma Finch School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal), see below.

Archaeobotany and contract archaeology

Alongside a focus on African savannas I have had a long standing interest in Swedish landscape dynamics, particularly the interplay between human settlement and the physical landscape. As an archaeobotanical consultant for contract archaeology since 1999I have aimed to develop the archaeobotanical method to address archaeological research within the context of Swedish heritage management and contract archaeology. My own research interest in these circumstances has been the social organisation of the landscape as expressed in the remains of the physical landscape such as pollen and macrofossils (see list of reports in attached CV).

Teaching

I teach at all levels of undergraduate education at Department of Archaeology and Ancient History from A to master’s level and at Cemus (Centre for Environment and Development Studies, CSD Uppsala), I have been involved in course management of undergraduate and graduate courses. I teach the topics “African and Comparative Archaeology”, “Landscape Archaeology”, “Historical Ecology” and “Environmental history and sustainability ”. I am the coordinator and main supervisor in the Ma programme in Global environmental History. and two Linneus-Palme programmes with Pretoria and Eduardo Mondlane University.