New media and anthropology - AAA meeting part III
While new media can foster participatory ethnography and enhance access, one also has to reflect on the implications of the Internet’s openness and availability. This was one of the lessons of a session at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association about new media and anthropology according to Inside Higher Education.
Kate Hennessy, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, described an online exhibit on the indigenous culture of the Doig River First Nation that she helped to develop for the Virtual Museum of Canada. It makes songs, photographs and video of the Dane-zaa people freely available to the general public, in what Hennessy described as “a form of repatriation” — the term for returning objects and artifacts to the cultures from which they came, although here the term was used in a virtual sense.
Over the course of several meetings with community elders, the team came to realize that, according to the Web site, “it is not appropriate to show Dane-zaa Dreamers’ drawings to a worldwide audience on the Internet. Even though the drum is central to this website, in order to ensure that the Dreamers drawings are treated properly and with respect, no images of Dreamers’ drawings or the drum that we describe here are shown.”
(T)he online exhibit project extended discussions about when the display of cultural heritage crosses the line into appropriation, and how giving communities access to digital tools can provide a means for self-representation.
For more news on the AAA meeting see Circumcision: “Harmful practice claim has been exaggerated” - AAA meeting part IV, “The insecure American needs help by anthropologists” - AAA-meeting part II, and Final report launched: AAA no longer opposes collaboration with CIA and the military - AAA meeting part I