On May 19, 2022, over 30 participants joined for the “Making the Private Public: Technology, Access, and the Law in Cultural Heritage Presentation and Preservation” workshop. The group was diverse, including members of the Dartmouth Library staff, Hood Museum staff, and colleagues working in cultural heritage at institutions outside Dartmouth. Participants enjoyed a fervent discussion on the intersections of cultural heritage law and technology, led by Drs. Miranda Belarde-Lewis, PhD (Zuni/Tlingit), an assistant professor and the inaugural Jill and Joe McKinstry Endowed Faculty Fellow of Native North American Indigenous Knowledge at the University of Washington’s Information School, and Patty Gerstenblith, PhD, JD, the Distinguished Research Professor of Law at DePaul University, Faculty Director of its Center for Art, Museum & Cultural Heritage Law, and a 2021 Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College. Both professors encouraged the group to think critically about key issues we all face as committed professionals in the cultural heritage field.
Dr. Gerstenblith presented first, showing the group images of cultural heritage sites that had been looted after wars or natural disasters, highlighting the ways that technology helps us map and keep track of such sites. She focused her portion of the presentation on applying a standard code of ethics across current cultural heritage policies and laws, and considering restitution as a first step toward change. We were privileged to read Dr. Gerstenblith’s final chapter draft from her upcoming book “Objects of the Past: A Historical and Legal Analysis of the Cultural Heritage Debate (Oxford Univ. Press) (in progress)”, as well as her writeup for Display at Your Own Risk, as part of our assigned reading prior to the workshop.
Following Dr. Gerstenblith in her portion of the presentation, Dr. Belarde-Lewis asked us to consider introducing Relationality to our practice, and incorporating FAIR & CARE principles into our work. Our “Making the Private Public” workshop concept was partly based on her research paper with a similar title called “Sharing the Private in Public: Indigenous Cultural Property and Online Media”, also offered as assigned reading prior to our workshop. After Dr. Belarde-Lewis closed our her portion of the presentation, she posed a heartfelt, pertinent question, and we began our discussion hoping to answer: “How can we support Tribal sovereignty as information professionals?”
Presenters and participants received goods purchased from Indigenous vendor partner Sakari Farms, located in Tumalo, just West of Bend, the heart of Central Oregon. Visit their site to read more about their story, to buy incredible Tribal food and skin care products, and learn more their work in collaboration with the Central Oregon Seed Exchange as a unique Deschutes County based cold climate seed bank, offering free seed and agricultural education to the public.
The recorded session from May 19 is available for registered Dartmouth users on Panopto: