Helene Martinsson-Wallin


I’m a Swedish Professor of Archaeology who specialise in Helene Martinsson-WallinArchaeology of the Pacific area with focus on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Samoa. I also research Stone and Bronze Age sites in the Baltic Island of Gotland and have a background working as an archaeologist on Åland Islands. My research embrace to investigate people living in the past and their landscape/seascape relationships but my research interests also extend to explore how we use and interpret archaeological finds and monuments in today’s society. One of my research issues concern how the colonial and post-colonial discourse influence how the past is perceived in the present and also how this play out in the current cultural heritage management and tourism on a global and local scale. The interactions between humans and landscapes/seascapes have more and more become a priority in my research and especially issues on biodiversity and sustainability in Island communities on a past, present and future scale. I use interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research methods since I think they provide a more nuanced and in-depth understanding of the interplay between human agency and earth systems over time.

I have a broad experience of archaeology and cultural heritage management in the Pacific and Baltic settings and previously worked in contract archaeology, as museum curator, researcher and university lecturer. My interest in archaeology and my curiosity of past material achievements was inspired at young age when I saw runic stone monument every day walking to school. I have since mainly directed my research towards monuments (materialised ideology) and landscapes to understand the long-time dynamics and complex societies. I would label myself a semi-empirical researcher where I consider the material remains to be a foundation for archaeological research and important to analyse and explain in various ways using methods from natural science but equally important to me is to interpret monuments and landscapes in the mindscape of people and in relationship to human agency both then and now.

I have previously acted several years as Academic Head of Department at Gotland University and have an affiliation as Adjunct Professor at The National University of Samoa since 2011 and Honorary Fellow at The Australian National University in 2001 and 2015-2017.

My current research projects are;

  1. Fisheries and coastal Development – the past, present and future in Gotland Island. 2021-2024. An interdisciplinary research project linked to the Graduate School on Sustainability together with Dr Lina Mtwana Nordlund Socio-Ecologist at the Department of Earth Science, Natural Resources and Sustainability at Uppsala University and graduate students Chiara D’Agata (socio-ecology) and Beatrice Krooks (archaeology/osteology). https://www.campusgotland.uu.se/sustainability/graduate-school/fiske--och-kustzonsutveckling/  My main focuses in the project are to research; shoreline displacement, sedDNA and marine resource use on Gotland Island.

  1. Sustainable visits in Rapa Nui – Glocal perspectives 2018-2024. A STINT-research collaboration with Programma Antropología, Universidad de Católica, Santiago de Chile and Fundasion Mata ki Te Rangi. Here I focus on issues on Sustainable Cultural Tourism and the relationship to Cultural Heritage Management in an Indigenous community as well as repatriations of archaeological remains.

I’m currently part of the supervisor’s collegium in the Graduate School in Sustainability (GRASS) at Campus Gotland. https://www.campusgotland.uu.se/sustainability/graduate-school/

I’m founder and administrator of the Interdisciplinary Island and Seascape Research Cluster https://www.facebook.com/groups/2226523077452878

I teach courses as: Cosmopolitan Pasts (400-level); Theory and Method in Archaeology (200-level), Anthropological perspectives in Archaeology (100-level) and I participate in Historical Ecology (400-level), A Sustainable Future Vision- Theory and Transdisciplinary methods (100 level), Human Security and Sustainability in Tropical Ecosystems (100-level), To build monuments and farm the soil (100-level).

To see more about my research and maybe download some of my articles:




Short CV:

Academic degrees:

1994 Doctoral degree in Archaeology (Pacific Archaeology), Thesis Title: Ahu – Ceremonial Stone Structures on Easter Island Uppsala University supervisor Professor Bo Gräslund.

1986 Magister degree Major: Archaeology, Minors: Osteology, Art History and Geosciences from Uppsala and Stockholm Universities. BA/Honors Thesis’s: Inbetween East and West -The Stone Age of Åland/ Cremated bones from The Iron Age Grave field of Gribbylund Täby/ Marae- an ethno-archaeological study of megalithic constructions on Tahiti (en etnoarkeologisk studie av megalitiska konstruktioner på Tahiti.)

Titles and Academic Affiliations

2017 Professor in Archaeology, Uppsala University

2015-2017 Honorary Fellow at Australian National University.

2011 Adjunct Professor National University of Samoa.

2008 Associate Professor Uppsala University.

Current Employment:

2017 Professor in Archaeology at Uppsala University, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.

Earlier Employments:

2013-2017 Senior Lecturer (with Tenure), Uppsala University, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History

2008(1/9)-2013 (30/6). Senior Lecturer, Gotland University, Department of Archaeology and Osteology (with Tenure).

2006 (1/1)-2008 (31/7) Deputy Senior Lecturer (50%), Gotland University, Department of Archaeology and Osteology Chief Curator and

1997 (1/1) -2007 (31/7) Associate Professor, Chief Curator and Researcher. The Kon-Tiki Museum Institute for Pacific Archaeology and Cultural History (11.09.00-01.06.01 parental leave)

1992 (1/1) – 1994 (1/6) Doctoral Fellow at Uppsala University.

1981-1986 Assisting Archaeologist and Field Director at the Museum of Åland, Finland (Museibyrån).

Administrative assignments:

2013-2014 Adjunct Academic Head for Campus Gotland Branch, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History Campus Gotland Uppsala University.

2008-2010, 2012-2013. Academic Head (Ämnesansvarig) Department of Archaeology Gotland University

2005-2007 Program director (developer of program) the International Archaeology Program at Gotland University.


Last modified: 2022-12-09