Skip to main content Skip to footer

Archaeology: Dr Marianne Hem Eriksen named New Generation Thinker

5 April 2023

Congratulations to Dr Marianne Hem Eriksen, a Life Member of Clare Hall, who is one of ten early career researchers to have been announced as this year’s New Generation Thinkers, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and BBC Radio 3.

Each New Generation Thinker is considered a highly promising early career researcher in the arts and humanities, and will be given the opportunity to share their pioneering research while making programmes for BBC Radio 3.

About Marianne’s research:

What does it mean if a human body isn’t buried, but is rather broken apart and scattered around people’s homes? Dr Marianne Hem Eriksen is Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Leicester, where she leads the ‘Body-Politics’ project. She seeks to understand whether all humans were regarded as social persons in Iron and Viking Age Scandinavia, and how the ancient Scandinavians conceptualised the body in life and death.

For example, in eighth-century Denmark a human skull bone was broken apart, inscribed with runes and discarded in a rubbish pit. Can we assume that this was the commemoration of a person, or has this body rather been transformed into a powerful object? In one strand of the project, Marianne and her team are analysing such scattered bones from approximately 180 individuals to find out about their genetic backgrounds, their health, and their life histories — to understand whose bodies ended up in postholes, ditches and hearths. 

The names of the ten researchers were revealed as part of a special episode of Free Thinking on BBC Radio 3 as broadcast on Tuesday 4 April. The broadcast was introduced by former New Generation Thinker, Christopher Harding, and is now available on BBC Sounds and via the Arts & Ideas podcast.

On this news and her time at Clare Hall, Marianne comments:

I am deeply honoured to have this opportunity to share the research that my stellar team produces with the broader public. As I’ve said before, my time at Clare Hall was magical and I think Cambridge as a place inspires us to dream big and think about the significance of the research we do. The AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker scheme allows me to keep dreaming big and share my passion for archaeology with millions of people. I am taking my team to Clare Hall for a writing retreat in May/June this year, so they can experience the College too!

About Clare Hall

Clare Hall is a college for advanced study at the University of Cambridge. Located close to the University Library, the College offers an intellectually stimulating, interdisciplinary setting for postgraduate students and scholars.