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15 Reanimating Cultural Heritage: Digital Curatorship, Knowledge Networks, and Social Transformation in Sierra Leone

Museum Transformations

Part 2. Social Agency and the Museum

  1. Paul Basu

Published Online: 5 DEC 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118829059.wbihms994

The International Handbooks of Museum Studies

The International Handbooks of Museum Studies

How to Cite

Basu, P. 2013. Reanimating Cultural Heritage: Digital Curatorship, Knowledge Networks, and Social Transformation in Sierra Leone. The International Handbooks of Museum Studies. 2:15:337–364.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 DEC 2013

Abstract

The institution of the museum and its associated practices undergo constant transformation in response to broader societal and technical developments. This is especially true of museums holding ethnographic, world culture, or world art collections. One of the most significant developments in such museums in recent years has been the changing understanding of the relationships between ethnographic collections and the so-called source or originating communities from whom they were obtained. Another key development has been the exploitation of digital technologies by museums, which has significantly widened access to these collections and facilitated more reciprocal forms of knowledge exchange around them. This chapter discusses a recent project that has sought to bring these two transformative spheres of museum practice together in order to explore the possibility of the museum's own transformative capacity as an agent of positive social change. The Reanimating Cultural Heritage project, which led to the creation of the digital heritage resource sierraleoneheritage.org, entailed a reconsideration of the value of dispersed and digitally remediated collections, and raised key questions concerning the adequacy of museological concepts such as the source community to fully enounce the relationships between differently situated stakeholders and these collections.

Keywords:

  • capacity building;
  • civil society;
  • digital divide;
  • digital repatriation;
  • international development;
  • knowledge network;
  • object diaspora;
  • postconflict;
  • remittance;
  • Sierra Leone;
  • situated knowledge;
  • source community