Johan Hegardt

Olov Janse - archaeologist and museum expert between Indochina and the Cold War

The archaeologist Olov Janse lived a remarkable life. He was one of the first Swedish archaeologists to have an international and cosmopolitan career. Janse was born in Norrköping in 1892 and died in New York in 1985. As a young Doctor of Archaeology, he began his career in Paris arranging Scandinavian artefacts at the Musée National de Saint-Germain. By a combination of coincidence and interest he went to Indochina in 1935 and initiated extensive archaeological excavation projects, as well as ethnographic and cultural historical research at the colonial research institute EFEO. Olov's Russian-born wife Renée took part in the research, and was by his side all his life. World War II ended their work in South East Asia and limited Janse's contacts with France. The USA became their new home. Olov worked as a professor at Harvard University, and was contracted by OSS (precursor of CIA) and Unesco. He stayed in touch with Sweden through relatives and influential friends, including the royal family. Olov's and Renée's journeys and scientific endeavours are portrayed in scientific reports, films, letters and travel diaries, most of which remain unprocessed in archives. The finds from their excavations are stored in museums in Vietnam, Sweden, France and the USA. This project is a study of Olov Janse's archaeological work and his archaeological journeys together with Renée in the light of the historical and political events he was part of - from Indochina to the Cold War.

"Projektets syfte samt eventuella ändringar i syftet under projektperioden"
The project is a microhistorical study of 20th century archaeology and museums as cosmopolitan institutions. Its purpose has not been significantly changed. The main objective has been to explore how archaeological knowledge and archaeological museum collections can be discussed in cosmopolitan terms. Following the Swedish-born archaeologist Olov Janse (1892-1985) and his wife Renée (1903-2000) through global developments from colonialism and World Wars to the Cold War, we have investigated how their cosmopolitan archaeology and artefact collections were connected to political forces and to personal desires, focused on movements in the space between large-scale world politics and small-scale individual narratives, investigated how the materiality of museum artefacts and archival material, the textuality of archaeological narratives, and the corporeality of the archaeologist cooperate in constant movement. And further, how these complex and slippery relationships are occasionally frozen in snapshots that stand out as archaeological knowledge. We have explored the discursive relationship between archaeology and ethnography and have demonstrated how these created and maintained popular and politically useful images of the distant Other. We have investigated the role of archaeology (and ethnography) in the French colonial project in Indochina, and in the political discourses surrounding the First and Second World War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. We have found valid concepts and analytical structures to understand the value and impact of archaeology and archaeological museums beyond the well-researched nation-state contexts. Our findings contribute with an important new perspective in a contemporary world which is characterized by cosmopolitan movement and translation, but where archaeological narratives and archaeological museums often come through as stable representations of essential nation states.

"Projektets tre viktigaste resultat och ett resonemang om dessa"
1. Through basic research in archives and artefact collections, the project has contributed with new perspectives on the role of international archaeologists and the international heritage sector, through world political contexts of the 1900s. Not least this concerns the major changes that the Second World War brought to these fields: from colonial definitions of archaeology, ethnography and cultural heritage to post-colonial definitions of the same with the new nation-states, with NGOs and international actors such as UNESCO. The project has shown that notwithstanding the decisive changes in international archaeology and heritage activities in the Second World War, there are also significant similarities in the structures and networks between pre-war and post-war times.
2. The project has explored the relationship between national collections of international archaeological (and ethnographic) artefacts, and the individual and institutional, colonial and cosmopolitan, actors who created and managed them.
3. It has explored the role of archaeology in the creation and maintenance of the image of the exotic Other, in contexts during the colonial and post-colonial era. The project has demonstrated how this image in international archaeology and heritage management is at once useful as a form of international currency, and has at the same time been formed to different national characters in the various countries included in the study (mainly Sweden, France, French Indochina and the US).

"Nya forskningsfrågor som har genererats genom projektet"
The project has generated a series of new research questions, such as the role of ethnography in colonial archaeology and the role of ethnographic museums as colonial and postcolonial institutions. Another question concerns the individual civil servant's role in bureaucratic culture and heritage diplomacy, as he activates and connects actors and networks in colonial and post-colonial heritage organizations. Yet another one is Renee's role in what is officially considered as Olov Janses career.

"Projektets internationella förankring"
The project has been anchored in international research, archives and museums. We have visited and collaborated with the following museums and archives:
US: The National Anthropological Archives; Library of Congress; Freer Sackler Galleries, Washington DC. National Archives at College Park, Maryland; Peabody Museum; Harvard-Yenching Institute, Cambridge.
Sweden: Riksarkivet; Arbetarrörelsens arkiv och bibliotek; Antikvarisk-topografiska arkivet; Stockholms stadsarkiv; Östasiatiska museets arkiv; Etnografiska museets arkiv; Norrköpings stadsarkiv.
France: Musée Cernuschi; École Française D'Extrême-Orient; Musée du Quai Branly; UNESCO; Musée d'Archéologie nationale; Collège de France.
In 2005 we visited Vietnam and consulted the available archives and museums there.
Källén has together with Professor Matthew Spriggs created "APHAN: Asia-Pacific History of Archaeology Network", a network for researches in the History of Archaeology in Asia and the Pacific.
The project has also established a renewed interest for Olov Janse at the Peabody Museum and at Musée Cernuschi, Musée Guimet, Musée d'Archéologie nationale.

15-18 July 2015, CHAM conference in Lisbon. Källén presents a paper in the session "Heritage Diplomacy and Networks of Conservation Knowledge".
12-18 January 2014, "Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association. Siem Reap conference", Cambodia. Källén and Matthew Spriggs organize the session "History of Asia-Pacific Archaeology", with papers by Källén and Hegardt.
28 November 2014, Hegardt presents a paper at the seminar "Ture Arne, Hanna Rydh, Olov Janse och Johan Gunnar Andersson. Svenska arkeologer i världen och deras vetenskapliga arv".
23 October 2013, "Heritage and critical postcolonialism", International one-day seminar at at the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm, organized by Källén and Hegardt, paper by Hegardt.
6 September 2013, Hegardt presents a paper at the EAA conference in Pilsen, Czech Republic, session "Biography and Histories of Archaeology: present state and future scopes".
29-30 October 2012, "Global Communities. Transnational and Transdisciplinary Exchanges", Växjö University, paper by Hegardt and Källén.
15-16 October 2012, Symposium: "Matter Matters. The Social Sciences Beyond the Linguistic Turn". Lund University. Hegardt & Källén participates.

"Forskningsinformativa insatser utanför vetenskapssamhället"
Our cooperation with museums and archives around the world had an impact on these institutions for the revival of the interest for Olov Janse and his work and by demonstrating the usefulness of international microhistory for understanding the history of museum collections. Hegardt and Källén have presented the project for the staff of the Swedish History Museum on 13 June 2013 and Källén has also given a public lecture at Stockholm University in November 2014. The biographical monograph, which will be published in the end of 2016, is written for a target group extending beyond the scientific community.

"Projektets två viktigaste publikationer samt ett resonemang om dessa"

Källén, A & Hegardt, J 2014, "A Cosmopolitan History of Archaeology: The Olov Janse Case." Bulletin of the History of Archaeology 24:7.

Hegardt, J & Källén, A 2014, "Translated Objects: The Olov Janse Case." Museum Worlds: Advances in Research: 2.

These two texts have reached two different research fields of and shows the wide range of the project. In the first text we focus on the history of archaeology in South East Asia, Scandinavia, France and the US. In the second text we place our discussion in the field of museology reaching for a broader understanding of the complicated nature of artefact collecting.

"Projektets publiceringsstrategi samt kommentarer till denna"
Our strategy has been to publish in a wide range of international journals and have so far published three articles for international peer review journals and two articles for edited volumes. A fourth article is under review. As a final conclusion to the project we want the biographical monograph, to be publish during 2016, to summarize the results for a wider audience and make as much as possible of the extensive basic research we have done on Olov Janse's life and archaeological enterprises available for further research. Our article in The Bulletin of the History of Archaeology was published open access and so will our article, if accepted, in Culture Unbound be. Our book to be published in 2016 will be published with Creative Commons.


Project website:

Källén, A & Hegardt, J 2014, ”A Cosmopolitan History of Archaeology: The Olov Janse Case.” Bulletin of the History of Archaeology: 24:7.

Källén, A 2014, ”The invisible archaeologist: Letters from the UNESCO Secretariat 1946−1947.” Journal of Social Archaeology: 14:3.

Hegardt, J 2014, ”’Do blonds have more fun? Yes, looking in the mirror’. Mrs. Janse, arkeologens hustru.” In: Med hjärta och hjärna. En vänbok till professor Elisabeth Arwill-Nordbladh, (Eds.), Henrik Alexandersson, Alexander Andreeff and Annika Bünz. GOTARC Series A, Gothenburg Archaeological Studies, Vol. 5.

Hegardt, J & Källén, A 2014, ”Translated Objects: The Olov Janse Case.” Museum Worlds: Advances in Research: 2.

Källén, A & Hegardt, J 2015, “Renées rop från arkiven.” In: I Utkanter och marginaler. 31 texter om kulturhistoria. En vänbok till Birgitta Svensson, (Eds.), Marianne Larsson, Anneli Palmsköld, Helena Hörnfeldt och Lars-Eric Jönsson, Nordiska museets förlag.

Källén, A & Hegardt, J [Under review], “A man of the world: Archaeology and 20th century world politics.” Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research.

Hegardt, J & Källén, A: [monograph, in prep.] The Archaeologist In-Between: Olov R.T. Janse 1892–1985. Nordic Academic Press [2016].