This panel examines the role of participatory archives in creating cultural heritage. It explores the ways and reasons people create, manage and curate archives on social media and websites, and discusses the impacts of these new forms of collaboration between audiences and institutions.
The Internet, and especially social media, has altered and transformed former understandings of what we mean by archives as well as cultural heritage, and demands the recognition of new forms of collaboration between audiences and institutions. People can collaborate with existing archives, museums and cultural heritage organizations by transcribing or translating texts, adding their personal photos, videos or documents to public collections or by sharing their stories. But they can also create, manage and curate archives fully by themselves on social media and websites. Kate Theimer (2012) calls these new forms of archival activity participatory archives: "an organization, site or collection in which people other than archives professionals contribute knowledge or resources, resulting in increased appreciation and understanding of archival materials and archives, usually in an online environment". While some have applauded this shift, there are still many who are unsure where it will lead to. The panel proposes to examine participatory archives and their role in creating cultural heritage. What can be achieved? What may be lost? The panel invites theoretical, methodological and empirical papers that look into the way people are participating and engaging in participatory archives. Following themes could be addressed: questions of authorship, engagement and participation, positive and negative impacts.