Introduction

This is the blog for the public seminars for the School of Arts and Communication (K3) at Malmö University. K3 consists of several disciplines, including Communication for Development, English Studies, Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Media and Communication Studies, Product Design, and Visual Communication, which make it helpful to share a platform aiming at generating discussions across these various practices. The seminars are opportunities for both K3-based researchers and external guests to present and discuss their works.

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Temi Odumosu: The Crying Baby. On Colonial Archives, Digitisation, and Ethics of Care in the Cultural Commons

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Temi Odumosu, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies, K3. The title of her talk is:

The crying baby: On colonial archives, digitisation, and ethics of care in the cultural commons

The talk will take place on Wednesday, February 27, at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Below you will find an abstract for the talk:

This seminar sketches key concerns I am engaged with in a new speculative paper I am writing for Current Anthropology on representational ethics and care. In essence I am concerned about attending to the dead in the digital commons. I argue that as museums, archives and other cultural heritage institutions make their colonial collections digitally available online – providing direct public access to troubling and contested materials – unresolved representational issues are magnified and new dangers emerge. If digitised artefacts represent a form of remembrance, ensuring that artefacts are not forgotten in storage (a solution to decay), then what shifts in institutional practices could take place, if we asked questions such as:

  • What does it mean for an archive or collection to provide open digital access to materials representing violated subjects who did not necessarily consent to being documented?
  • To what extent are institutions taking seriously non-European perspectives on looking at, or engaging with, ancestor remains?
  • How can we better understand the effects of unmediated, screen-based engagement with the material outcomes of biased and racist value systems?
  • And, how can we extend concepts of caretaking and custodianship beyond the institutionally directed ethical guidelines, currently provided by professional advocacy institutions?

Exploring what an ethics of care and/or custodianship might look like when engaging with such questions, this seminar seeks to provoke critical dialogue about the delicacies of caretaking colonial histories both on and offline – histories rife with carelessness. At the same time, I explore reparatory artistic engagements with such digitised images, and further describe how metadata might be rethought as a cataloguing space with the potential to alter the imbalances of historical power.

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