Call for papers: Conference "Collecting the North", 19-20 October 2022, Oslo (hybrid)

What can objects – artefacts, things, souvenirs, specimens, texts, etc. – tell us about the North? This conference will explore objects, collections and collection practices and investigate their relevance to the narratives, imaginings and interpretations of the North.

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Deadline for submitting abstract: 1 July 2022

Image showing water and snowy mountains from Svalbard.

Photo: Ulrike Spring

Call for papers

What can objects – artefacts, things, souvenirs, specimens, texts, etc. – tell us about the North? This conference will explore objects, collections and collection practices and investigate their relevance to narratives, imaginings and interpretations of the North in the past, present and future. "North" refers here to the North of Europe, that is, the Nordic countries and the (European) Arctic.

This conference will investigate a wide variety of objects – natural, human-made, physical and/or sensory – in the context of collections and collection practices. Some objects were collected during touristic tours and scientific expeditions in the North, others as part of industrial activities such as whale hunting or by individual travellers or residents. Some have entered museums, archives, libraries and private collections, others have been lost or can today only be found in secondary sources, for example in literature and art. In order to understand different ideas of the North, we need to analyse the objects as well as the many different collection practices, interpretations and scientific uses of these objects.

The conference will be an experimental meeting space for scholars and others working with objects and collections, with a focus on transdisciplinary and collaborative research. We encourage reflections on empirical, methodological and theoretical issues. We invite contributions from scholars from a wide range of fields, such as history, museum studies, biology, literature, art, Earth sciences, archaeology, etc., and we encourage the participation of early career scholars, including postdocs, PhD students and MA students.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Objects: What kind of objects were collected, and why? What is the life cycle of these objects? What can they tell us about interpretations of the North?
  • Collecting practices: What kind of objects were collected in the North by people living or working there, by explorers during expeditions, or by tourists visiting the North? What kind of collecting practices did they engage in? What kind of stories about the North can these collecting practices tell us?
  • The North in collections: What objects from the North can we find today in museums and institutions, and how are they communicated to the public? What characterizes these objects and what narratives and images of the North do they convey?
  • Collection bias: Which biases can we find in the collecting and collection of objects of the North? What has been collected, and what has not, and what are the consequences for the understanding of the North? What role do objects play in the hegemonic ideas of the North?
  • Methodological and theoretical reflections: How can we approach these objects from different disciplinary perspectives? How can we approach objects that are no longer accessible to us, or only available through books or oral tradition?


We welcome contributions in any of the following formats. It is also possible to submit more than one contribution:

  • Papers – 15 min research papers
  • Roundtable papers – 7 min short papers on specific topics. We will place you together with other contributors working with similar topics. You are also welcome to suggest your own roundtable topic.
  • Posters – The conference will organize dedicated poster sessions. Posters should be designed to be presented in a common room or circulation area over a defined period, during which participants circulate and talk to individual presenters in an informal manner.
  • Research helpdesk and BYOO (Bring your own object) – Sessions where we present research “problems” and where we display and discuss objects, getting feedback from peers in a variety of disciplines. 


Submission guidelines

Please submit a short abstract (ca 200 words) that states your contribution, its format and its relevance to the topic(s) of the call, and include your name, research interests and, if applicable, latest relevant publication. Indicate clearly in the beginning of your abstract what format you wish to contribute to, and whether you wish to attend in person or digitally. 

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 1 July 2022

Notification of acceptance: 8 July 2022

Please email abstracts, suggestions for roundtable topics, or any enquiries regarding the event, to


The conference is organized by Collecting Norden, an international and interdisciplinary research group financed by UiO:Nordics, University of Oslo. Collecting Norden includes a range of members, including students, researchers and museum professionals, who study the humanities and natural sciences.


Published June 6, 2022 10:10 PM - Last modified June 16, 2022 1:15 PM