Intellectual backgrouond

The Urban Mind programme initiative (coordinated at the request of the faculties of Arts and Languages by Sinclair and Nordquist) aims to develop a new concept of Urban Mind. Archaeologists have considerable experience in analysing long time-depth social-ecological systems, suitable for contributing substantially to our understanding of the human dimensions of long-term resilience and sustainability, by

* (1) analysing long-term effects of past land-use systems;
* (2) studying past land use systems to inform a greening of present land and resource management systems;
* (3) applying ecological complexity theory to discuss patterns of resilience, sustainability and collapse in human societies.

In the present project the role of history, languages and religion in the shaping of the cognitive aspect of urban organization in modern and ancient societies will be undertaken in comparative frameworks using multi-scalar and temporal frames of reference. This constellation of researchers in the humanities at Uppsala University, working together with colleagues from Stockholm, provides a specialist competence unique for Sweden which overarches previous academic boundaries. The Urban Mind programme builds on new theoretical frameworks particularly within archaeological discourses on historical ecology, landscape archaeology, environmental archaeology and the anthropology of landscape.

The ideas we would like to develop with Mistra support are closely associated with the establishment of a new intellectual framework in the IHOPE (Integrated History of Peoples on Earth) programme under the auspices of the IGBP (International Geosphere Biosphere Programme). Specifically, “Human history has often focused on the rise and fall of great civilizations, wars, and specific human achievements excluding important ecological and climate contexts. Human history and earth system history have developed independently and. only recently has it been recognized that current earth system changes are strongly affected by the human-environment system. Integration of human history and earth system history is important for understanding global change and in developing adaptation strategies for the future”

In the Urban Mind project we would like to further the IHOPE aims for a better understanding of the Anthroposphere/Geosphere dynamics. Natural resources, the central focus of many of today’s conflicts are not only physical values external to society but cognitive values prioritised over extended time periods by individual actors. The humanities provide the means of integrating the voice of individuals from linguistics and historical documents We aim to contribute new forms of integrated history and cognitive ecology of the urban experience which we see as cumulative construction over tens, hundreds and thousands of years by human actors. This is a radical yet well founded departure from tradition humanities approaches and we believe with significant implications for modern society.