Dr. Katja Müller

Postcolonial Digital Collections and Online Archives

This anthropological research project examines the processes and consequences of digitization processes in ethnographic collections and archives. Based on statements and expectations of access, networking, and international reconnection to the countries in which the ethnographic photographs and objects are created, the project asks if and how new forms of exchange and interactions can actually emerge on the basis of digital collections. How do digital archives emerge, what challenges do heritage actors face, and how do digital archives influence the way people in the heritage sector renegotiate their position and the way people relate to (digitized) cultural heritage? How does digital availability change the understanding of preserved material artefacts and the historical information?
The project analyses the sociopolitical and sociocultural effects of digitization projects on the basis of Indian (and for comparison also European) case studies, to focus on the post-colony. It explores how Indian online archives within and as an alternative to established museums actors develop, and in as much selected actors in India and Europe are brought together through new forms of archival knowledge transfer. It examines how knowledge re-circulates on the basis of ordered meta data and digital image. It demonstrates how digital archives always entail a scrutinisation of established knowledge claims and institutionalized processes or their re-establishment, and how emerging forms of knowledge circulation create post-ethnographic moments of cultural heritage.

Postcolonial Digital Connections
Project-related conference