Accepted Paper:

African museums without geographical boundaries and without walls: Heritage Informatics and critical knowledge construction of and with Africa  


Christopher Hutchison (Kingston University)

Paper long abstract:

Web 2.0, the “read-write web” that has given us Wikipedia and YouTube among the most familiar examples of digital (media) libraries built uniquely on user-generated content, also offers unprecedented opportunities for creating democratic, participatory, community-owned “memory institutions” (the now preferred collective term for museums, archives, and libraries). Emerging new museum and gallery software such as OpenCollection, Omeka, CollectionX, and StreetPrint—combining digital asset management with online public access—not only allows end-users to view heterogeneous collections but also, through tagging and annotation, empowers users to actively participate in what may in effect be thought of as the open-ended re-interpretation and (re)creation of digital artefacts and of the cultures they represent. Moreover the variety of media types—from text to video, images to virtual reality—enables the capture, preservation, and annotation of both tangible and intangible heritage.

This paper explores the implications of “museum 2.0” software for African heritage, end-user empowerment, and 'social curatorship', with examples of “African People's Museums” from Uganda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia produced by African students taking an innovative final-year course in 'Culture and Heritage Informatics' at Kingston University.

Panel A5
After 2007: Africa in the heritage and intellectual landscape