Mads Kildegaard Nielsen

Mads Kildegaard Nielsen

PhD fellow

I am currently employed as a Carlsberg Humanities PhD Fellow at the University of Copenhagen, where I earned my master’s degree in prehistoric archaeology in 2021. My work has primarily been centered on Arctic archaeology, with the Thule culture as my primary focus.

In my PhD project, I direct my attention towards research history. Utilizing the archives of Professor William Thalbitzer (1873-1958) as my primary empirical source, my research centers on the theoretical and sociopolitical conflicts within early Inuit studies during the first half of the 20th century. The aim of the project is to unravel formative conflicts and examine their impact on knowledge production, collaborative practices, and the future trajectories of research on Inuit culture.

Primary fields of research

Research history: The impact of divergent theoretical and methodological frameworks on research in the early years of research on Inuit culture. 

Arctic archaeology: The Thule Culture mainly adressing the earliest migration of Inuit ancestors into the eastern arctic with particular focus on the Ruin Island phase in northern Nunavut and Avanersuaq (The Thule District) and Qimusseriarsuaq (Melville Bay). 

Ethno-archaeology: The application of ethnographic sources in the interpretation of archaeological data through analogical reasoning and the inherent challenges in applying this approach. 

Current research

My current research addresses sociopolitical and theoretical conflicts within the study of Inuit culture, exploring the underlying discourses and their implications for both historical and contemporary perspectives. Specifically, I concentrate on the following aspects:

  • Research history, emphasizing methodological and theoretical conflicts.
  • The impact of divergent discourses on research environments, influencing collection and excavation practices, knowledge production, and collaboration practices.
  • Utilizing past conflicts to pose new critical questions in modern research.

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