Europeana WEAVE Workshop
How can CHIs support inclusivity?
13:00 - 15:00 CET, 18 February 2022
Digital and social technologies are facilitating new and diverse forms of curatorial practice, which can be harnessed to highlight a balanced view of historical situations. This gives the floor to underrepresented communities, in turn supporting inclusivity and diversity. The project is working towards the greater inclusion and involvement of underrepresented communities in content curation, where technologies mediate and allow users to contribute to our histories.'
This hands-on workshop will explore the importance of including the representation of cultural communities in the work done by cultural heritage institutions. During the workshop, participants will learn how CHI’s can support inclusion with practical exercises and facilitated discussions. Parts of this workshop can be used to continue discussions with your communities and colleagues.
Participants will be asked to do some preparation before the workshop and work after the workshop. These exercises will take approximately one hour.
The workshop will be led by Dr Tola Dabiri and Sebastiaan ter Burg.
Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is a large and important area of cultural heritage, but it is also an area which has been largely overlooked by cultural heritage institutions and professionals, who have mainly focussed on tangible heritage assets.
Intangible cultural heritage is often reduced to its performances - singing, dancing, storytelling, crafts and processions. But this approach ignores the actual heritage element of how these activities have been used to preserve and transmit the history of peoples around the world. Most of the work undertaken with ICH is often reduced to safeguarding, i.e. preserving the activity but not the people, communities and environments in which this heritage takes place; thus stripping the ICH of its real meaning and purpose, or worse, viewing ICH as a tourist and financial opportunity.
This WEAVE workshop aims to raise awareness, understanding and skills in managing ICH through activities, discussion and the sharing of experiences.
ICH is a large area and we are unable to examine all of this in our workshop. In order to gain the most from this session, please look at these pre-workshop materials and complete them before the workshop.
Activity 1 - Tell me who you are?
Please download and print this template and decorate the mask in a way that represents how you identify yourself. You can use anything you want to decorate your mask. What is important for people to know about you? And how can you communicate this with your mask decorations? Please have your mask ready when the workshop begins and send a photo of you wearing your mask to Sebastian ter Burg by email: firstname.lastname@example.org with “WEAVE workshop activity” as the title. We will make a collage of all the masks that we’ll share with the other participants.
Activity 2 - Speaking the same language?
ICH has many different interpretations. What does ICH mean to you? Please write 5 words which explain what ICH means to you and send your words by email to Sebastiaan ter Burg in the same email as your mask. We will then develop a word cloud from all of the entries to help us to begin to develop a shared language.
Activity 3 - Case studies
The following case studies will be used to encourage sharing and discussions in the workshop breakout groups. Please read the three case studies and make notes of your answers for the sessions. All names, locations and scenarios are fictional, any resemblance with existing person, organisation, location or scenario is coincidental.
Case Study A - The Exhibition
Your department will shortly be launching the long anticipated La Sur Yon exhibition. There is great excitement as the painter visited your town often and his most celebrated painting is of the Dance of the New Year Cheese, which is still practised in the region to this day. You decide that a performance of the dance would be an excellent addition to the opening celebrations for the exhibition, and you contact Farmer Cheddarsteps, the leader of the dancers, to invite him and the other dancers to perform in the springtime month of May. Farmer Cheddarsteps firmly declines your invitation and refuses to raise your offer with the other dancers. He is very offended and is going to write an angry letter to the local papers.
- Why is Farmer Cheddarsteps so offended?
- What have you misunderstood?
- How can you make amends?
Case Study B - Making new friends
Since the recent Black Lives Matter activities in 2020, your organisation is concerned that despite making equality, diversity and inclusion policy statements and speaking about this on the local media, there are still very few visitors from ethnically diverse backgrounds. This is particularly troubling as there is an initiative to repatriate one of your most popular artefacts to Lower Colonia, where it was taken from in 1865. To try and kickstart your renewed efforts your staff organise and publicise an open evening for members of the ethnically diverse communities of your region. The big night comes but no-one from your target audience attends.
- Why was the event so poorly supported?
- What could you do next time to improve your chances of success?
- Do you think that this might have anything to do with the statue from Lower Colonia?
Case Study C - Folk stories and real history
Your organisation has worked enthusiastically to include ICH in its collections and to forge relationships with the communities who would not usually engage with you, including the local Sunshakers. This work has included adding new interpretations of objects including their use and importance to intangible cultural heritage, especially the rattles, pots and bells used in the Sunshaker ritual. However, some of the Sunshaker practitioners have said that they have not been able to find any information about their culture on your organisation’s website or catalogue. When you discuss this with the curators responsible for these artefacts, their response is that these new pieces of information about the Sunshaker ritual are only folk stories and not real facts. The Sunshakers are angry and upset, as once again their knowledge about their own culture has been dismissed, and they are very reluctant to continue to engage with you or your organisation.
- How do you begin to raise awareness about ICH with the curators?
- How can you ensure that the knowledge of the ICH practitioners is valued, in particular those in your local community?
- How can you reassure the Sunshakers and others that their knowledge, skills and culture will be treated with respect?