The Design and Development of Digital Return Platforms for Northern Indigenous Heritage (PDF)

Digital Return Platforms for Northern Indigenous Heritage screan-cap_1062

Executive Summary

“… Digital return technologies offer Indigenous communities a means of repatriating objects and knowledge gathered from their ancestors as part of earlier colonial endeavors. Many third party institutions such as museums, universities, and government heritage agencies, retain possession of these collections because of the perceived impracticality of returning them to source communities.
The concept of digital repatriation or “digital return” has emerged as a means of rebuilding relationships between source communities and third party institutions through the transfer of knowledge and objects in digital form. In this way, digital return systems, such as online archives, electronic atlases and digital databases, are excellent examples of disruptive technologies.
The idea of disruptive technologies was first popularized by Clayton Christensen in his 1997 book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. Disruptive technologies are technological innovations that upset networks supporting the existing state of affairs. Digital return acts as a disruptive technology because it disrupts established institutional models for archiving, accessing, and interpreting objects and cultural knowledge.
Paradoxically, digital return also disrupts traditional Indigenous networks that support how objects and cultural knowledge are accessed and circulated by making them freely available on the public Internet . Resolving this paradox requires that we identify and address existing knowledge gaps in both the sociocultural and technological sides of digital return.
A three-part scoping review of Indigenous digital return projects in regions of the North American and European Arctic was undertaken to: a) identify the extent and objectives of academic, government, and community-led digital return projects; b) characterize the digital return methodologies currently used in arctic communities; c) identify the issues and challenges facing digital return projects within the study area; and d) draw attention to heritage initiatives that are grass roots and community led.
The methods used in this study include: a) bibliometric analysis of electronic databases; b) online surveys of digital return projects; and c) a case study of community-led heritage organizations and their projects. …”
PDF http://www.idees-ideas.ca/sites/default/files/sites/default/uploads/general/2016/2016-sshrc-ksg-dawson_0.pdf

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