Martine van Haperen
Van Haperen graduated as a Research MA from the European Archeology division of the University of Amsterdam in 2009, with a minor in cultural anthropology. She was then employed as researcher for the ANASTASIS Merovingian cemetery project, which aimed to publish and analyze a selection of old cemetery excavations from the middle and southern Netherlands. In the autumn of 2011 she was granted a Promoties in de geesteswetenschappen position by NWO and started a PhD project at Leiden University.
Her dissertation, which dealt with post-depositional interventions in Merovingian burials, was completed in the spring of 2017. She continues to cooperate closely with the international Grave Reopening Research group, which she joined during her PhD. After her viva, she worked for a short period as a university substitute teacher. In 2018 she started work as a postdoctoral researcher for the Rural Riches project. In addition to her work at the university, van Haperen also has an independent business offering plant-based cooking workshops, coaching and consultancy.
Her research interests include mortuary archaeology, the archaeology of production, the early medieval period in North-West Europe, archaeological theory, modern and past dietary habits, the history of vegetarianism, relations between human and non-human animals, ethnography, economy and the relationship between archaeology and other social sciences.
As a postdoc in the Rural Riches project, van Haperen will focus on social aspects of early medieval production. The project studies the recovery of the early medieval economy in northern Gaul after the collapse of Roman authority. This is traditionally seen as an elite-driven process, but new perspectives are being developed about the role of rural populations. The project takes as its starting point the presence of precious and globally circulating objects in the cemeteries small rural communities. This is seen as an indicator that the rural population may have had a far more conspicuous role in the economic development of post-Roman Europe than has hitherto been thought.
Van Haperen’s contribution will be to study the development of craft production. A substantial portion of the grave goods found in rural cemeteries was produced in the research area. With the development of the lavish burial ritual, which took many objects out of circulation, production in the region and imports from outside must have increased significantly to meet the demand from the growing population. However, in this non-modern, non-disenchanted society, production cannot have been a value-free practice, aimed simply at meeting the infinite need for commodities. Rather, it was likely to have been embedded in social and cosmological understandings and perceptions. Items such as dress accessories and weapons probably played an important part in the transmission of ideas and values.
We have as yet a limited understanding of the technology of production, information exchange between artisans, how crafts were socially embedded and how information circulated between ‘producers’ and ‘consumers’. The project will have to study how production was ideologically or cosmologically embedded in society, what influence producers had on changes to certain ideologically meaningful styles, and who took the initiative to alter the appearance of objects that were central to the transmission of ideas. We will create models exploring the types of social contexts in which production took place and how production and the agency of craftspeople contributed to the dispersion and internalisation of values and ideas. This research will incorporate recent theoretical debates on chaines opératoires, cross-craft interaction, social forms of production and human-thing relationships