Monday, October 02, 2006

Academy Employee

As of today, I'm an employee of the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, founded in 1753 by Queen Lovisa Ulrika. The Academy has about 130 full members, most of them professors in the humanities and social sciences. The organisation is self-funded through old donations and acts independently of the state apparatus.

The Academy's premises is a patrician townhouse built in the 19th century. It's located in a quiet Stockholm street near the Humlegården park in which the Royal Library is sited. The house was once the abode of the Rettig family, wealthy tobacco industrialists and shipowners. It still retains the opulent furnishings collected by the Rettigs with additional goodies amassed by the Academy itself through the centuries. Above my desk, for instance, hangs a portrait of disponent Daniel Engelke, Norrköping, painted in 1924 by Asta Holmberg. I like his mustache and the intent way he's reading Norrköpings Tidningar. Good way to pass the time when sitting for a portrait.

Behind my back at the office is an outrageous tiled stove in an unusually gaudy version of the Empire style: pink, blue and gold, topped by a really gay-looking eagle.

At the moment I have three tasks at the Academy, though I hope to make myself useful in more ways.
  • Organise a seminar in March to further the continued use of the Medieval parish as the basic territorial unit in taxation and census records. Modern territorial units have an unfortunate tendency to change every few decades, which creates endless problems for anyone doing longitudinal historical research. Better to keep a system that has been used for centuries. It's just a way of organising geographical information, which is arbitrary anyway from a cost and database design perspective.
  • Continue to edit the journal Fornvännen (on archaeology and Medieval art) as I have done since 1999.
  • Edit a proceedings volume on Fornvännen's centenary symposium last spring, on the future of the scholarly journal. One good paper by Jan Hagerlid, about Open Access publishing, is already on-line.
I feel really lucky to have this job. Interesting work with the opportunity to cultivate a lot of contacts, good pay, nice people, fantastic office, less than an hour from home. And I'll still be doing research half of my time. The university jobs I've been applying for wouldn't have offered conditions like these. It's six months to start with, and then we'll see if the Academy will have further use for my services.

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Blogger Alun said...

Congratulations! It sounds like a fantastic job.

02 October, 2006 22:57  
Blogger Martin said...

Thanks, Alun! Yeah, I count myself very lucky.

02 October, 2006 23:10  
Blogger Hans said...


It's obvious you live in Stockholm when you write less than an hour from home and make it sound as if it was close. I can walk to work in that time, and biking takes about 15 minutes. Much further than that would be painful.

03 October, 2006 09:03  
Blogger Martin said...

Thanks Hans!

I'm a suburbanite by birth and upbringing. When I'm not working at the Academy, I have a desk at my dad's house, less than 15 minutes from home.

03 October, 2006 09:08  
Blogger mugabe said...

Don't rest on your laurels just yet. Here's another nice job opening, in case you feel like heeding the call of the wild:,090010,240916,81,0281650597.shtml

From the "qualifications needed" list:

Profound and well-documented knowledge of zombies and other viral undead entities

04 October, 2006 23:04  
Blogger mugabe said...

Damn this URL truncation.

04 October, 2006 23:06  
Blogger Martin said...

You can use the A HREF tag in comments.

The zombie thing sounds like it might have something to do with the movie version of Ajvide Lindqvist's novel.

04 October, 2006 23:21  
Blogger Rupert Goodwins said...

This gives the lie to a joke currently doing the rounds:

The Top 10 Things Archaeologists Rarely Find

10-Dinosaur Bones
8-Precious Jewelry
7-Alien Artifacts
6-Treasure Chests
5-The Lost Tribes of Israel
4-Whole Pots
3-Secret Tunnels
1-A Steady Job



11 October, 2006 03:13  
Blogger Martin said...

Haha, many thanks!

11 October, 2006 07:47  

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