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Maria Nyström


Department of
Visiting address
Guldhedsgatan 5a
41320 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 130
40530 Göteborg

About Maria Nyström

Maria Nyström is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Conservation at the University of Gothenburg. Her dissertation is written as part of a multidisciplinary project titled ”How did The Church of Sweden become a national heritage?” (Hur blev Svenska Kyrkan ett nationellt kulturarv?).

Departing from the effects of changing demographics and secularization on the historic churches of Sweden and various other Western countries, the dissertation examines how the professional heritage field and notions of ecclesiastical heritage are being transformed in the present. Two case studies of contemporary Swedish projects concerning a historic church, where new models of governance, management, and development are being explored, forms the basis of the examination.

While Swedish historic churches enjoy extensive heritage protection and state funding, the Church of Sweden has lost its’ position as a state church and is experiencing a decrease of membership numbers as well as visitors. This has been recognized as an issue by the heritage sector and the Christian congregations, albeit with slightly different motives. The responses to this development include attempts to re-imagine the role of the ecclesiastical heritage in the present. These attempts shed light on the mediating and conflicting discourses on professional roles and ecclesiastical heritage. While notions on protection, religious use, and development of heritage may be difficult to merge, the dissertation shows that a broadened professional heritage field can present novel interpretations and uses. Although focused on ecclesiastical heritage, the results of the dissertation relate to the professional heritage field in Sweden in a broader sense.

Maria Nyström previously holds an MA in Conservation and a BA in Art History and held the Conservation Grant of the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies 2014/2015. Her MA thesis titled ”The Creative Industry: Regenerating Industrial Heritage in Rome” explored how bottom up-approaches to industrial heritage can provide new creative spaces for marginalized groups in the city. Her research interests are focused on the development and transformation of built heritage, the role of heritage in urban and regional development and the professional heritage field. She also teaches architectural history at the Department of Conservation in Gothenburg.