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UAL Research Online

Worlding ontologies. Towards more ethical museum databases

Hidalgo Urbaneja, Maribel and Velios, Athanasios and Goodwin, Paul (2023) Worlding ontologies. Towards more ethical museum databases. In: Museum Analytics: New Directions, 18 May 2023, Kings College London.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Hidalgo Urbaneja, Maribel and Velios, Athanasios and Goodwin, Paul

The need to address the legacy of colonial pasts and Western-centric visions of the world has led museums to strive for social justice and address the troubled narratives they tell about their objects. These problematic narratives live in the databases museums use to provide access to their collections. As museums grapple with knowledge gaps and misrepresentations about the “Global” in the digital domain, researchers and museum practitioners claim that existing frameworks used to catalogue objects in databases reinforce a biased view of reality. And when data science is used to analyse data from these catalogues, outputs reinforce existing colonial dynamics and knowledge biases.

Worlding Public Cultures (WPC) is a project that proposes worlding as an activating concept and analytical tool. The concept goes beyond current top-down models of “inclusion,” “diversity” and other representations of the “global”. Worlding grounds the global within local worlds and allows entangled histories to emerge, opening pathways to decolonise “universal” Western narratives and epistemologies. Challenging and generating new forms of knowledge in the digital domain is considered a worlding exercise by decolonial digital humanities, a research field that can inform data-centric practices in the museum sector.

A key element of the project is a database that shares a structured set of curated data about exhibitions that address “Global” arts and culture worldwide. The database structure is mapped on the CIDOC CRM and database entries often include terminology from structured vocabularies and authority files such as the Getty Vocabularies and VIAF. As part of a critical and worlding exercise, we are interrogating the frameworks that shape ontologies like CIDOC CRM and exposing implicit biases of our database structure in the graphical interface. In worlding database ontologies we propose a first step towards decolonisation that is applicable not only to our project but also to museum databases.

Official Website: https://kingsdh.net/2023/04/05/museum-analytics-programme/
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: digital art history, worlding public cultures
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Research Centres/Networks > Transnational Art Identity and Nation (TrAIN)
Date: 18 May 2023
Funders: Trans-Atlantic Platform for Social Sciences and Humanities (T-AP), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Event Location: Kings College London
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2023 10:38
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 10:38
Item ID: 20522
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/20522

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