Social Justice and Digital Repatriation

I will be speaking at the UMSI Social Justice Series this Friday. My talk, titled “Options for Digital Repatriation: The Case of the Worcester Ethnographic Photographs of Indigenous Philippines,” will explore the possibilities and ethics of digitally repatriating cultural heritage materials. Drawing on my work with early-twentieth-century ethnographic photographs, the talk will explore “virtual reunification” as an option to return cultural heritage materials to source communities. I will discuss the ethnographic photographs attributed to Dean C. Worcester from the 1890s to about 1914 as a case through which to examine options for creating digital surrogate copies that could be repatriated via digital media to return images to source communities. The talk will draw on archival research and interviews that I undertook for my doctoral work.

The talk begins at 12:00 noon in room 2185 at North Quad. Hope to see you there!

Related: UMSI event page, follow the Social Justice Series on Facebook to get updates about future talks.

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Hugh Taylor Award

The article “Fields of Vision,” which I coauthored with Prof. Paul Conway in 2011, received the 2012 Hugh A. Taylor Prize from the Association of Canadian Archivists. The prize is awarded annually to recognize the most significant article published in Archivaria, the premier Canadian archival journal. The award is given for presenting “new ideas or refreshing syntheses in the most imaginative way, especially by exploring the implications of concepts or trends from other disciplines for archival thinking and activity, and by extending the boundaries of archival theory in new directions.”

The prize was announced at the ACA summer meeting in Banff, Canada. The citation reads in part:

The authors’ innovative “fields of vision” theory complements theoretical discussions of the effects of digitization by adopting a user-centred perspective. The article offers significant insights into the various ways in which users attach value to, and construct meaning from, original and digitized images.

Copies of the article may be obtained from Archivaria or in the publications section.

Related: Press release from the UM School of Information.

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Rackham Centennial Fellowship

Rackham Centennial LogoI was thrilled to be selected as a recipient for a Rackham Centennial Fellowship to support the completion of my dissertation work! These fellowships were awarded to Rackham students selected from a pool of 750 applicants. The SI communications office published a press release regarding the two School of Information awardees.

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Rackham Centennial Symposium

Rackham Centennial Symposium Poster

Virtual Reunification: Bits and Pieces Put Together to Form a Semblance of a Whole

On Thursday, the Rackham Graduate School will celebrate its centennial with a symposium featuring presentations by graduate students. My research, alongside nearly 200 other students, will be showcased at the event. I will present a research poster based on my ongoing research on virtual reunification of the series of ethnographic photographs taken by Dean C. Worcester in the Philippines. The poster, drawn from my dissertation research, is titled “Virtual Reunification: Reassembling Bits and Pieces to Form a Semblance of a Whole.”

The event will take place all day at the Rackham Graduate School (how to get there) on Thursday, February 16. To see a larger version of the poster, click the image above.

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Understanding Records and Archives, Winter 2012

Winter term classes at Michigan begin this week. I will be teaching as the instructor of record for “Understanding Records and Archives” (SI 580) at the UM School of Information. The course is an introduction and overview of major ideas, principles, practices, and current debates in the field of archives. The course provides an understanding of why cultures, organizations, and individuals create and keep records and make archives. We will examine the methods and technologies that have been used to create, store, organize, and preserve these materials. We will also consider how people and groups use records and archives for research, ongoing operations, accountability, and organizational memory, as well as the legal, policy, and ethical issues surrounding the administration and use of archives. Finally, students will understand the basic functions of archives including inventory, classification, appraisal, acquisition and disposition, arrangement, description, preservation, reference, access, use, outreach, and public programming.

If you are not able to take the course but interested in learning more about archival methods and issues, information about the course content, as well as an overview of the readings and materials, is available through the University of Michigan’s open courseware portal, Open.Michigan. Full course materials for SI 580, as taught by Prof. Paul Conway in 2009, are publicly and openly available at

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