We are delighted to announce a symposium series commencing on the 25th of May, welcoming a range of speakers interested in the intersections between collections as data, cataloguing histories and critical archival studies, heritage infrastructures, critical digital heritage, and information science.
Our ambition is to use the series to explore, encourage, and foreground a range of perspectives, including:
- The ‘thickening’ of computational approaches to collections metadata not only to enrich empirical research on collections but also as a site of productive critical enquiry into the benefits and challenges of computational approaches to collections research.
- Reflections on how “Collections as Data” research can contribute to richer, more critical understandings of the origins and development of museum and archive collections to explore the hidden and ignored processes of colonialism, empire, and slavery and how they have shaped collections and their classifications.
- Work that reflects on how collections as data, digital humanities and other fields are actively responding to the processes and traces of imperialism, empire, enslavement and gender that have shaped the Western museum, so as not to replicate or activate them in new digital heritage infrastructures, including computationally active engagements with collection catalogues, databases, and paratexts.
- Work on the social, cultural, professional, praxis, tacit, and historical at the expense of ‘just’ distant reading.
- Digital hermeneutics and source criticism, with collections as data as microcosm for understanding difficulties and generative potential of this in heritage contexts.
- The consequences of the uncoupling of collections metadata from their circumstances of production, and the potential for computational recouplings.
- Perspectives from the natural-sciences or, indeed, multidisciplinary perspectives and approaches to data mobilisation and aggregation and analysis at scale and temporal depth, for example, extended specimen/digital extended specimen networks and distributed systems of scientific collectionsWe believe there is much at stake here: the machine and machined futures we create for heritage metadata; the status and perceived value of documentary labour; our ability to recover and comprehend the motivations behind acts of classification and their impacts on the fabric of knowledge; and the new forms of research are being opened by digital specimen collections and their aggregation.
Paper presentations take place online between the 25th of May and the 15th of June, on Thursdays at 12:45 BST.
The Sloane Lab Seminar Series is convened by Julianne Nyhan (TU Darmstadt & UCL), Andrew Flinn (UCL), Jeremy Hill (British Museum), Andreas Vlachidis (UCL), Mark Carine (NHM), James Baker (University of Southampton) and Alexandra Ortolja-Baird (University of Portsmouth).
This joint virtual seminar is co-hosted by University College London, TU Darmstadt, the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the University of Southampton, and the University of Portsmouth.
The symposium is funded by the Towards a National Collection programme (Arts and Humanities Research Council) as an activity of the Sloane Lab Discovery Project.