Digital Collecting Across Cultures
In this talk I give an overview of the process of adapting the collecting Social Photography prototype for use with the National Museum of Vanuatu. Raising questions of cultural specificity demands a rethinking of the normativities that are embedded within our understanding of social photography. This project has challenged us to think more expansively about the constraints of access to hardware, software literacies, and the ways in which social networks map onto digital networks and what national cultures may be emerging in this context.
Haidy Geismar is Professor of Anthropology at UCL. She is also the curator of the Ethnography Collections, co-directs the Digital Anthropology Programme, and is also Faculty Vice Dean (Strategic Projects) developing Culture Lab: a new set of research and teaching activities focused on media, heritage and collections to be part of UCL’s new campus in the Olympic Park in East London. With fieldwork experience in Vanuatu and New Zealand dating back to 2000, her research focuses on museums and collections as sites of knowledge and value production, and she has written on a wide range of topics including the art market, postcolonial museologies, the production of indigenous intellectual and cultural property, the history of ethnographic collections, the epistemology of digital processes in diverse cultural contexts, and the social resonance of historical photographic collections in present day communities. Recent books include Moving Images: John Layard, Fieldwork and Photography in Malakula since 1914 (2010, Hawaii University Press, winner of the 2012 John Collier Prize for Still Photography from the Society for Visual Anthropology), The Routledge Cultural Property Reader (with Jane Anderson, 2017), and Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age (2018, University College London Press). She is an active curator, working with museums including the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the East West Gallery, Honolulu and is part of Te Maru o Hinemihi, a group of experts representing the interests of the Maori meeting house Hinemihi, part of a national trust property in Clandon Park. She is also Chair of the Royal Anthropological Institute Photography Committee, and is one of the founding editors of a new open access series, Anthropology and Photography, and is Associate Editor of the International Journal of Cultural Property, as well as sitting on the editorial board of the Journal of Material Culture, and the Science Museum Group Journal.