Ancient Culture Goes Online as National Museum Digitises

Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia
by Christopher Scott, January 29, 2014

After nine years of locating works, cross-checking records, photographing and finally cataloguing, the National Museum has unveiled its online database, which features more than 16,000 entries ranging from ancient statues to paintings and manuscripts.
Launched on January 3, the database is the only fine arts system of its kind in Cambodia, with its web presence enabling museum curators to locate and document works, as well as providing the public with access.
Funded by the Leon Levy Foundation, the National Museum of Cambodia collaborated with the Center for Khmer Studies (CKS), an international, non-governmental organisation that supports and promotes research and scholarly exchange with Cambodia.
“It’s extremely important for Cambodians as well as researchers, whether they be just generally interested in Cambodian art, wanting to actually locate, write about or research something in particular in the collection,” Darryl Collins, project director and member of the CKS board of directors, said.
Prior to the online database, museum records were scattered in three different formats, with several French card cataloguing systems, Khmer handwritten inventory lists and a pre-existing database.
“Before it was rather laborious; virtually you had to turn up on the doorstep of the National Museum Of Cambodia to talk to the curatorial staff or the director and find out about a particular piece,” Collins said.
More here

Digital Heritage Projects with Indigenous Peoples, final post

Digital Himalaya Project
From the website:
The Digital Himalaya Project is digitising archival collections of ethnographic information from the Himalayan region. Five major anthropological collections were selected for digitisation in the first phase of the project to reflect a range of different media and a wide coverage of geographical areas and ethnic populations from across the Himalayas. Alongside these visual and audio collections, we have more recently digitised an extensive set of back issues of Himalayan journals and maps and have created layered GIS maps of Nepal's 75 districts...
At inception in 2000, the Digital Himalaya project had three primary objectives:
1. to preserve in a digital medium archival anthropological materials from the Himalayan region that are quickly degenerating in their current forms, including films in various formats, still photographs, sound recordings, field notes, maps and rare journals
2. to make these resources available over broadband internet connections, coupled with an accurate search and retrieval system useful to contemporary researchers and students
3. to make these resources available on DVD to the descendants of the people from whom the materials were collected by making them both easily transportable and viewable in a digital medium
Turin, Mark. 2011. Salvaging the Records of Salvage Anthropology: The story of the Digital Himalaya Project. Book 2.0. 1(1): 39-46.

Digital Heritage Projects with Indigenous Peoples, continued

iPinch | Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage: Theory, Practice, Politics, EthicsGo to: http://www.sfu.ca/ipinch/about
From the website:
Mission: The Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage research project is an international collaboration of archaeologists, Indigenous organizations, lawyers, anthropologists, ethicists, policy makers, and others working to explore and facilitate fair and equitable exchanges of knowledge relating to archaeology. We are concerned with the theoretical, ethical, and practical implications of commodification, appropriation, and other flows of knowledge about the past, and how these may affect communities, researchers, and other stakeholders.

Vision: The Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage research project provides a foundation of research, knowledge and resources to assist archaeologists, academic institutions, descendant communities, scholars, policy makers, and other stakeholders in negotiating more equitable and successful terms of research and policies through an agenda of community-based research and topical exploration of IP issues. Our focus is on archaeology as a primary component of cultural heritage; however, this project is ultimately concerned with larger issues of the nature of knowledge and rights based on culture—how these are defined and used, who has control and access, and especially how fair and appropriate use and access can be achieved to the benefit of all stakeholders in the past.

Digital Heritage Projects with Indigenous Peoples, continued

GRASAC | Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures
Go to: https://grasac.org/gks/gks_about.php
From the website:
The organization is an international collaborative partnership of Aboriginal community researchers, museum and archival scholars and university researchers. Members contribute insights and knowledge from their own areas of understanding and in turn benefit from insights and knowledge of others. GRASAC consists of two key components: the network of people who meet, work together on research projects, and exchange ideas; and the web-based software tools being developed to enable remote collaboration and sharing....

...Access to the site is controlled for several reasons.
1. Some of the material housed in museums and archives is considered sacred or sensitive by Aboriginal community members. We are in the process of learning more and working out protocols to protect this material, but until that time, broader public access must be limited.
2. Some material on the site (such as digital photography) is affected by copyright laws. We have obtained permission to share this material with our members and member organizations (including our Aboriginal community centre and First Nations partners, but not with the broader public at this point).
3. Finally and most importantly, GRASAC was founded upon the principle of reciprocity. Members not only use the site for their own research, but are expected to contribute their knowledge to it...

Digital Heritage Projects with Indigenous Peoples, continued

From the website:
The Mukurtu project began in the remote Central Australian town of Tennant Creek with the creation of the Mukurtu Wumpurrarni-kari Archive. The project was born from the needs of the Warumungu Aboriginal community who wanted an archival platform that allowed them to organize, manage and share their digital cultural materials in line with their cultural protocols. Using new technologies we collaborated to develop a user-friendly and culturally relevant system embedded with Warumungu social and cultural protocols. This solution began and ended with the understanding that technology is meant to bend to human needs, not the other way around. Mukurtu is now in development as a free and open source platform distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (or "GPL").
Christen, Kimberly. 2008. Archival Challenges and Digital Solutions in Aboriginal Australia. SAA Archaeological Record. 8 (2): 21-24.

Plateau Peoples' Web PortalGo to: http://plateauportal.wsulibs.wsu.edu/html/ppp/index.php
From the website:
This project is a collaboration between the Plateau Center for American Indian Studies at Washington State University and tribal consultants from the Umatilla, Coeur d'Alene and Yakama nations. The Plateau Peoples' Web Portal is a gateway to Plateau peoples' cultural materials held in Washington State University's Libraries, Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections (MASC), the Museum of Anthropology and national donors including the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian Institution. The materials in the portal have been chosen and curated by the tribes....
Christen, Kimberly. 2011. Opening Archives: Respectful Repatriation. The American Archivist. 74(1): 185-210.

Christen, Kimberly. 2006. Ara Irititja: Protecting the Past, Accessing the Future -- Indigenous Memories in a Digital Age. Museum Anthropology. 29(1): 56-60.

Digital Heritage Projects with Indigenous Peoples, continued

Creating Collaborative Catalogs ProjectGo to: http://www.digital-diversity.org/?page_id=109
From the website:
A unique partnership underpins this project, linking a university team with expertise in digital museum and community information system design and evaluation (UCLA’s Department of Information Studies), a tribal museum at the Pueblo of Zuni (the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center), a regional museum of culture, art, and science (Museum of Northern Arizona), a major art museum (Denver Art Museum), a major natural history museum (Denver Museum of Nature & Science), and an international anthropology museum (Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)...
...Innovation and collaboration are the key goals of this project, using new technologies to enhance how museum collections are described via a collaboration with Native communities. The development, evaluation and dissemination of our model for collaborative catalogs will consider cultural protocols, museum collection management systems, blogging/tagging technologies, focus group evaluations, and public workshops, which other museums can sustainably adopt in their uses of digital resources for capacity building in integrating Indigenous perspectives into their collections.
Srinivasan, Ramesh. 2006. Indigenous, Ethic and Cultural Articulations of New Media. International Journal of Cultural Studies. 9(4): 497-518.
Srinivasan, Ramesh, Jim Enote, Katherine Becvar, and Robin Boast. 2009. Critical and reflective uses of new media technologies in tribal museums. Museum Management and Curatorship. 24(2): 169-189.

Digital Heritage Projects with Indigenous Peoples

In the posts this week there will be some links to ongoing projects that have created digital heritage collections - a recent trend in museum anthropology that seeks to create positive, reciprocal, and productive relationships between museums and the communities whose objects they house.

These projects have provided communities with greater access to collections and, in some cases, they have also devloped mechanisms to respect and implement various levels of access to the materials based on cultural protocols. This week we will include just some of the leading examples we know of in the field with some further reading by project participants when available:

Reciprocal Research Network
Go to: http://www.rrnpilot.org/

From the website:

The RRN is an online tool to facilitate reciprocal and collaborative research about cultural heritage from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. The RRN enables communities, cultural institutions and researchers to work together. Members can build their own projects, collaborate on shared projects, upload files, hold discussions, research museum projects, and create social networks. For both communities and museums, the RRN is groundbreaking in facilitating communication and fostering lasting relationships between originating communities and institutions around the world...

...The RRN is being co-developed by the Musqueam Indian Band, the Stó:lō Nation/Tribal Council, the U’mista Cultural Society and the UBC Museum of Anthropology. This collaboration ensures the needs of the originating communities as well as museums are taken into account at all stages of the development. Each co-developer has a member on the Steering Group and each of the First Nations has several Community Liaisons.

Rowley, Susan, Dave Schaepe, Leona Sparrow, Andrea Sanborn, Ulrike Radermacher, Ryan Wallace, Nick Jakobsen, Hannah Turner, Sivia Sadofsky, and Tristan Goffman. 2010. Building an On-Line Research Community: The Reciprocal Research Network. Presented at the Museums and the Web 2010 conference. Denver, CO, April 13-17.

Ivan Karp Online Archive

Online Archive of Ivan Karp’s Publications Launched at Emory University

Emory University recently launched an online archive of Ivan Karp’s
(1943–2011) published papers in order to keep his work widely available. Karp
was a social anthropologist and a leading scholar of social theory, museum and
heritage studies, and African studies. He began his long-term research with Iteso
communities in western Kenya in 1969. Karp wrote extensively about power,
personhood and agency, about African societies and systems of thought, and he
published groundbreaking work about museums and exhibitions.

The new online archive includes complete lists of Karp’s books and of the
works published in the two book series for which he served as editor: the African
Systems of Thought series at Indiana University Press and the Smithsonian
Series in Ethnographic Inquiry at Smithsonian Institution Press. Important
features of the archive include: a) downloadable links to Karp’s published papers,
b) video clips from his presentations, and c) an In Memoriam section with a praise
poem written about him in Kenya and audio from the memorial held in his honor
at the National Museum of African Art in November 2011. The archive organizes
Karp’s papers thematically, with sections devoted to Social Theory and African
Systems of Thought; Museums, Exhibitions and Public Scholarship; African
Philosophy; and the Iteso People of Kenya. The archive can be found online at:


Karp was the National Endowment for the Humanities Professor at Emory
University before his death in September 2011. He served previously as the
Curator of African Ethnology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural
History and as a professor at Indiana University and Colgate University. He
founded the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship at Emory and for over a
decade co-directed it with Corinne Kratz, fostering ongoing collaboration with
colleagues in universities, museums, and other cultural institutions in South Africa through the Institutions of Public Culture program. Plans are under way for Karp’s unpublished papers to be deposited with the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian Institution.

UNESCO Database

Do you know about the UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws? It was created in 2003, and now contains more than 2,350 laws of 180 countries.

Check it out at www.unesco.org/culture/natlaws

It is easy to use and free of charge, and provides a unique tool for cultural authorities, museums, universities, law firms, and heritage professionals. More generally, the database can play an important role in fighting the illicit traffic of cultural heritage.

El Palacio Digitized

First 10 Years of El Palacio Digitized and Placed Online

El Palacio Magazine, published by the Museum of New Mexico for nearly 100 years, celebrates the digital age just as the state celebrates its centennial, by putting the first ten years of the magazine online, free to all at http://archives.elpalacio.org. With the changing times, the vision of many magazine publishers—including El Palacio‘s—has had to broaden in order to continue a print product while also developing an online version and full archive for a Web-savvy audience. The New Mexico State Library’s State Document Program, which has long collected and cataloged printed copies of El Palacio, shared the magazine’s online, digital goals because of the publication’s historical content, its focus on New Mexico, and its perfect fit with the library’s mission to increase access to state publications.