Sloane Lab Community Fellows

The Sloane Lab awards Community Fellowships to contribute to “The Sloane Lab: Looking back to build future shared collections”, led by University College London (UCL) in partnership with the Technische Universität Darmstadt, British Museum (BM) and Natural History Museum (NHM). The fellows are undertaking creative, critical, practice and/or research-led projects with the Sloane Lab’s Knowledge Base and data, demonstrating the new forms of analysis and interpretation the project unlocks.

For the latest news from Sloane Lab Community Fellows and funding calls please check:

Completed Community Fellowships:

Dr Gayle Chong Kwan

Gayle Chong Kwan

Project: Travelling Taxonomies

This research focuses on Sloane’s changing display of objects in his cabinets and the different configurations in which he presented and performed them to visitors. It seeks to complicate taxonomic boundaries and hierarchies that underpin objects’ organisation and display by ascribing cabinets and objects anthropomorphic tendencies, trickster and anarchic animal traits and the creation of object tales.  

Travelling Taxonomies explores movement, flow, flux, and instability in Sloane’s ‘Miscellanies’, objects that by their very designation were considered to sit outside clear categorisation. This project conceives of the display cabinets as imperial devouring monsters and the objects within as resistors to their framing and confinement.  

Visual by Dr Gayle Chong Kwan Sloane Lab Community Fellow, depicting a Miro Board (similar to a virtual pin board) titled "A Cock in China" by the project Travelling Taxonomies

Miro Board mind map “A Cock in China”

Travelling Taxonomies drew upon existing research to create a dataset by ‘tabulating’ objects from Sloane’s ‘Miscellanies’ that moved between cabinets. A selection of these objects –  located in his catalogues as title, textual description, and as additional pencil markings alongside the entries – were the starting point for engagement activities with movement practitioners, including a dancer, drummer, actor, dance journalist, gardener, and art therapist. Images and/or catalogue entries were the starting point for imaginative and physical sessions that considered movement inherent in the objects, how they moved between cabinets and why, and movement inspired by or that connected to the participants own practice. In resistance to the tendency to classify, categorise, and record, during these sessions nothing was noted or materially created. 

Page scan by Dr Gayle Chong Kwan, Sloane Lab Community Fellow, titled "Extract from Travelling Taxonomies ballet proposal". The image shows a page scan of a ballet script.

Extract from Travelling Taxonomies ballet proposal

This approach to data research led to the outputs of: a data set of objects that moved between cabinets; Miro Board mind maps; and a ‘Proposal for a Ballet’ that is set in the Enlightenment Gallery of the British Museum, in which objects from Sloane’s collection are currently shown. Part script, movement notation, images, and sound piece this work is a disruption or recomposing of the form as a recognition of the ways objects were brought into European/Western framing and reference. It is a choreography of movement in which taxonomies travel as creative resistance to hierarchies of confinement and control. 

Dr Dorothy Kyagaba Sebbowa

Dr Dorothy Kyagaba Sebbowa

Project: Anti-Colonial Annotations of Sloane Jamaican references: Inquires into African Slavery

This project draws on the guide to the Sloane Database produced by the Natural History Museum before the Sloane Lab project as the key unit of analysis. It seeks to reinstate the experience of enslaved people and the history of slavery as the prism through which to explore and understand this data by examining the historicities, technologies and methodologies through the lens of Sloane’s involvement in the local of Jamaica and African enslavement. This project was prompted by the absence of this context in the publicly accessible data provided by the Natural History Museum about the Sloane Database prior to the Sloane Lab. .  

The project inquiries into the ways that digitally mediated annotations can support the articulation and inscription of previously ignored or marginalized anti-colonial readings of the historical and curatorial-mediated archive. The historical hermeneutical methodological lens was employed to guide the critical perspectives and analysis.  

The output of the research consists of an educational tutorial, online workshops and publication upon receiving funding. The educational tutorial hosted on the Wiki platform can be collaboratively edited and re-useable as an Open Educational Resource for academic researchers, archivists, museum curators. Additionally, it can be used as a platform for educational settings such as high school, teacher education, university courses on history, slavery, (anti) colonialism and decolonization. 

The Educational tutorial is accessible on: 

Anna Sofia Lippolis

Anna Sofia Lippolis

Project: Exploring polyvocal knowledge in the Sloane collections

This project is grounded in the concept of polyvocality, aiming to enable researchers to represent historical biases and diverse conceptualizations of objects in a machine-readable format. This approach sought to enhance the user experience of online collections by illuminating various perspectives and contexts. The primary goal was to develop design patterns within these collections  to develop an ontological module for polyvocal sources. Such an ontology would empower users to query the collections, yielding results that highlight controversial items as well as provide explanations for the responses given. 

Diagram by Anna Sofia Lippolis who is a Sloane Lab Community Fellow. The diagram represents the ontological structure of multivocality for a cultural heritage information model with various elements like Belief, Conviction, and Actor connected by properties within the CIDOC CRM framework.

A diagram representing the ontological structure of multivocality for a cultural heritage information model, with various elements like Belief, Conviction, and Actor connected by properties within the CIDOC CRM framework

The main output of this research was the development and publication of the ontology, along with its integration with relevant items from the collections and comprehensive documentation of the tools used throughout the process. Additionally, the project explored the possibility to reuse this ontology in other contexts and assess its effectiveness in educational environments, such as high school and university courses focusing on history and colonialism. 

Project outputs: 

  • The Multivocality Ontology model, in .ttl format 
  • The documentation of the ontology, along with competency questions, requirements, user stories and use cases 
  • A report of the Fellowship 

The outputs are available on GitHub: 

For the latest news from Sloane Lab Community Fellows and in relation to funding calls please check the latest Community Fellowship posts. If you have any questions please contact us.

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