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Accepted Paper:

The material lens: The Endangered Material Knowledge Programme and documenting knowledge by documenting objects  
Lissant Bolton (British Museum)

Paper short abstract:

The Endangered Material Knowledge Programme (EMKP) at the British Museum raises questions about the nature of documentation. What is known is formed and shaped by how it is known: this paper asks how material forms shape knowledge and how we can attend to those processes in documentation.

Paper long abstract:

The development of the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme (EMKP) at the British Museum makes it possible to address a number of significant questions about the nature of documentation. This grant-giving programme, funded by Arcadia, focusses on documenting knowledge around material objects. In the end all knowledge can be linked in some way or other to the material world, so the opportunities for documentation through the programme are significant. However, what is known is formed and shaped by how it is known, and I would argue that we need to attend not just to what can be known through the material world, and through material practices, but to how material practices constitute knowledge. This process is known best to Melanesian anthropology through events of material revelation, like the display of the Malakulan rambaramp figures that reveal the whole of a man’s secret cult achievements after his death. The principle applies also of course, to the process of documentation: the forms of documentation we use determine the nature of our knowledge. This paper reflects on these issues.

Panel Evid07b
Responsible documentation? II
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 March, 2021, -