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Shenghui Wang Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

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Presentation on theme: "Shenghui Wang Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam"— Presentation transcript:

1 Shenghui Wang Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

2 What is this? TM-nummer: b Objectnaam: Kruik (onderdeel) Datering: voor/before 1948 Afmetingen: circa 4,5cm (1 3/4in.) Afdeling: Midden-en Zuid-Amerika Deelcollectie: Materiële cultuurcollecties Geografische herkomst: Suriname Culturele herkomst: Karaïben Functie & Gebruik: conservering en opslag Materiaal - hoofd: klei Materiaal - rest: kleurstof Techiek: Beschilderd Practical device? Ritual device? Decorative device? Funeral device? Practical device? Ritual device? Decorative device? Funeral device?

3 TM-number: Object name: Schaal Dated: voor/before 1983 Dimensions: [N.B.] Subject: Midden-en Zuid- Amerika Origin (geographical): Suriname Culture: Karaïben OVM-category: opdienen en consumeren Practical device? Ritual device? Decorative device? Funeral device? Practical device? Ritual device? Decorative device? Funeral device?

4 Objects are cataloged using Western taxonomy, such as OVM, AAT Browsing and query objects based on their annotations However, the original social contexts and community memory are ignored! During a Sharing Knowledge and Cultural Heritage trajectory (Nov, 2007) “I cannot find it!” “You put them in the wrong order!” “We do it this way …” --- Representatives from Wayana, Trio and Kari’na (Suriname)

5 When the Yup'Ik Alaskan Elders visited and described the objects in the storage rooms in Berlin “… on the fourth day, when we looked a model dance house. Its delicately carved ivory figures and unusual costumes drew no comment, but Andy and Paul both gave long explanations of the tiny drum model., In brief, they said that the drum holds the elders and all that is good, but that half of the Yup'ik people today are outside this drum.” (Fienup-Riordan, 2003: 33) During our second week we were confronted with two boxes, each holding a mixture of kayak and harpoon parts. Paul and Wassilie carefully separated them, gave each a name, and described their use, placing kayak parts in one box and harpoon parts in another. When I looked the next day, the museum's collection manager had reordered the ivories according to the original confusion, since that was the way they had historically been located in storage (and ordered by the collector). Paul John designated an ivory story knife (yaaruin) a cartoon-alriit. Catherine called a bladder water bottle (mervik) a Yup'ik thermos.

6 Looking at a knife I never had looked twice upon, that was collected amongst the Wayana around the beginning of the turn of the century Marius stated: this knife, how did it get here? How could they have taken it from her. This used to be from a woman, I am sure, a woman that had nothing. From the little things she had, she made this knife. A knife that must have been her most precious object she had in her life. And then this braka (white man) comes and takes it from her. He could have continued and asked for what it was exchanged, if they gave her money for it, or some worthless sugar cubes in return. The object became a story of colonial relationships, domination, of ownership and remembrance. Our museum database says: Knife, 8.3 cm long, metal and wood and the collectors name. What opened my eyes with Marius Merenkes visit was when Basja Marius visiting our collections in 's gravezande

7 Ethno-linguists found out that, in these communities Temporality is cyclic rather than linear; Possessions are constructed as temporal facts (i.e. immediate, temporal or permanent); Space is categorised according to the type of spatial fact: whether an object is located in an open, enclosed or liquid space, or near/in fire The immaterial (or invisible) world is interwoven with the material (tangible) world that westerners are restricted to. Western KR systems are not suitable anymore! basic dimensional, material or stylistic data functional characteristic

8 Similarly, Chinese Traditional Medicine could hardly be represented by using western KR systems

9 Dr. Eithne B. Caulin Dr. Laura van Broekhoven Prof. Dr. Frank van Harmelen Dr. Stefan Schlobach Dr. Shenghui Wang Drs. Jos Taekema

10 How do indigenous people conceptualise their world? How can we formalise these conceptualisations? How can we make these conceptualisations and their formalisations interoperable with existing western formalisations? How can we apply this interoperability for building Intercultural Bridges?

11 Community-based approach Inviting indigenous representatives to describe/categorise/annotate museum collections in the their own way Field work of ethno-linguists Inviting indigenous people again to validate constructed conceptualisations 1. Constructing Amerindian conceptualisations

12 Knowledge acquisition methods Elicitation, collection, analysis, modelling and validation card sorting, laddering and repertory grid analysis, etc Linguistic methods Analysing corpora which have been gathered and are being gathered Ethno-linguistic methods Analysing the relationship between culture, thought, and language General conversation and elicitation Wordlists of everyday items, simple sentences Narrative personal stories Oral tradition and video recording 1. Constructing Amerindian conceptualisations (cont’) Promising tools here?

13 2. Formalising indigenous conceptual spaces Standard KR formalisms OWL, SKOS New extensions Continuous quantities (colour, shape, etc) New modalities temporality Spatiality Novel formalisms Analogy Prototypes Likeness/similarity

14 Objects have been categorised using western taxonomies Objects will be categorised based on the indigenous conceptual space Mapping between formalisms which are grounded in different conceptual spaces has not been investigated Manual mapping Machine learning Linguistic knowledge 3. Finding Intercultural Interoperability

15 Consultation Examples: the public library of Queensland (Australia), the National Museum of the American Indian (Washington D. C.) Still attached to existing databases and categorised through Western KR Using indigenous conceptualisations to Organise exhibitions Construct e-learning materials Decolonise information access to the collections 4. Building intercultural bridges

16 A spiral model for building intercultural bridges

17 What to check? Verifying individual aspects the faithfulness of the constructed conceptualisations of indigenous communities the expressiveness of the representation formalisms for the conceptualisations the quality of mappings between western and indigenous annotations Verifying the effectiveness of the methodology, tools and applications Verifying the generalisability of the methodology modelling Traditional Chinese Medicine

18 Impact: Cultural Heritage institutions better understanding, protecting and presenting their collections Humanities create cultural scripts of those indigenous communities Computer science: more expressive formalisms and more flexible mapping strategies

19 We hope the project will contribute to the preservation of cultural diversity, help decolonise the memory and put both approaches to the collections on an equal footing “include the excluded”: give marginalised peoples a voice and a role in the representation of their own cultures operationalise the new policy of sharing cultures recently announced in The Hague, particularly given the historical link between Suriname and the Netherlands.

20 Thank you


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