I am an archaeologist and PhD candidate studying the digital methods through which the public encounters the historic environment. I received my Bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Sheffield and my Master’s degree in prehistoric archaeology from Durham University. I have previously worked as a field archaeologist and historic environment officer in the UK and have also collaborated in both a research and a pedagogical context with a bioarchaeological field school in Romania. My research interests include the prehistory of the Balkans and Northern Europe, digital applications in heritage and cultural studies, as well as public archaeology.

Heritage in the Digital Making. The case of Gothenburg

As part of the CHEurope project, I will be completing my PhD in the Department for Literature, History of Ideas and Religion at the University of Gothenburg under the supervision of Mats Malm. My project will take the form of a compilation thesis critiquing the accessibility of the digital mechanisms involved in exhibiting the historic environment. This majority of this will be formed by an enquiry into Gothenburg’s urban historic environment and its digital reconstruction with the Gothenburg City Museum. This will be supplemented with comparative assessment of Swedish and English historic environment records and an analysis of the sociology of historic environment records utilising Bruno Latour’s actor network theory. Finally, an cross-comparison of literary techniques and technologies coinciding with the rise of modernity and pot-modernity and its impact on spatial depiction will be used to analyse contemporary visual means of displaying historic urban environments.

Contact: william.illsley@lir.gu.se

Useful links:



William R. Illsley, Problematising the Historic Environment Record: Comments on Persistent Issues in England and Sweden, Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, vol.21, 2019

William R. Illsley, Göteborgs födelse (The Birth of Gothenburg). Permanent exhibition, Gothenburg City Museum, Gothenburg, Sweden, Nordisk Museologi – The Journal of Nordic Museology, vol.28 N°1, 2020

William R. Illsley, Digital surrogacy: politics and aesthetics in visualising the historical past of a city, International Journal of Heritage Studies, published online 7 October 2021


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