A summary of some of what I was up to this summer in Peru . . .
Originally posted on The Ancash Advocate:
PIARA Community Outreach in the Summer of 2014
by Rebecca Bria
A strategic component of PIARA’s mission beyond archaeological research is engagement with communities of the Huaylas Province. This summer we carried out several important projects in this area of our work. Here are a few examples:
- In partnership with American Climber Science Program (ACSP), funded by a USAID grant, we studied the impacts of climate change on the people living near the Parque Nacional Huascarán. Dr. Doris Walter, Elizabeth Cruzado Carranza, Erick Luis Casanova Vasquez, and two student collaborators from La Molina University, Lucinda Tafur and Johny Soca, conducted the interviews with residents in the Huaylas and Carhuaz provinces. As part of this research, we organized and hosted workshops with focus group discussions of climate change in Hualcayán…
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Be certain to check out Doug’s Archaeology recent posts on Wikipedia and Archaeology. In his last post, Doug graciously linked to some of my previous posts on the subject. Another great resource on digital technology in classroom and in archaeology is Jennifer Carey’s blog over at http://indianajen.com
Originally posted on Doug's Archaeology:
This week I have been posting on why archaeologists should embrace Wikipedia (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), my experience with Wikiclub, and how you can get started editing Wikipedia. An obvious intersection between Wikipedia and Archaeology is the classroom. Luckily, I don’t need to reinvent the wheel as Robert Connolly has already blogged about the topic. Robert gave a hint of his work in the #BlogArch blogging carnival I ran a few months ago. He re-posted a portion of a profile of himself. The first section discussed blogging but then went on to say:
“Connolly acknowledges that reading and writing blogs can be a huge time drain and produce little. But ultimately, he sees a bright future for such user-generated content. This semester he is teaching an Undergraduate Honors Forum titled “Wikipedia as a Research Tool.” Like blogs, he is convinced…
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Lori Byrd Phillips is one of the true leaders in open authority and co-creation in cultural heritage and museum studies. Check out this excellent interview
Originally posted on Museum Minute:
Lori Byrd Phillips is the Digital Marketing Content Coordinator and the former Wikipedian in Residence at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Lori is a leader within the GLAM-Wiki initiative, an international group of volunteer Wikipedians who help cultural institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) broadly share resources through collaborative projects with Wikipedia. Her research centers on the concept of Open Authority, a term she developed to describe the integration of open, collaborative digital communities with museum dialogue and interpretation.
I’m very lucky to work in the largest children’s museum in the world—The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Day to day, I coordinate content across the museum’s blog and numerous social media platforms. This means working with experts in and outside of the museum on content ranging from dinosaurs and ancient China…
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Check out some very sound presentations on Wikipedia in Archaeology.
Originally posted on Doug's Archaeology:
As I explained yesterday, Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website on the Internet and an article on it is usually guaranteed a top three result in most search engines. But, what if you want your work to be viewed on your own website? I can think of multiple reasons for this:
- You have a blog that you want people to read.
- You got a grant and as one of the deliverables you need to create a website and show use of it.
- You are a society or group and you want people to visit your website so they become members.
- I am sure there are some reasons I have not thought of that you have, the list goes on.
The question you might have then is, ‘does Wikipedia taking the top search results hurt my work?’ Is Wikipedia our competition?
Wikipedia is an Undergrad paper, no original research
In case you…
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I just read a volume of papers on creativity in museums, visitor experiences, and so forth. Despite the plethora of measurement outcomes for visitors touching pieces, engaging with staff, talking among themselves, voting for their favorites, and so forth, I found no mention of a visitor being asked “what are your needs and wants from this institution.” That is, the papers reflected what professionals determined as an appropriate set of goals and then a set of measures of how well the visitor experience achieved those goals.
The papers reflect the trend that to prioritize the visitor experience is often simply making a decision to value the visitor on an equal or greater level than the object. The museum staff then generate a set of proposals on how this engagement might occur. This approach seems the antithesis of John Cotton Dana’s 1917 mandate in The New Museum to “Learn what aid the community needs: fit the museum to those needs.” Explicit in this mandate is engaging directly with the community to determine those needs.
I had a couple of interesting lessons recently on Dana’s point. I previously posted how an article published on the engagement between the Southwest Memphis community and the C.H. Nash Museum along with printed banners honoring military veterans were highly valued by the community members. In conjunction with faculty from the University of Memphis, this summer our Museum conducted another round of oral history interviews that will be archived at southwestmemphis.com. The important point about these projects is that they resulted from the expressed needs of community members.
I emphasize here that I do not mean to take a holier-than-thou position on our community outreach. I am consistently surprised at which projects resonate with the community. But through experience, I am coming more and more to act on the direct community input at the very start of project development. We then filter the community input through the mandates of our museum mission statement.
This process holds true in my recent collaborations in Hualcayán, Peru. On the PIARA Team, my primary responsibility this summer is beginning the process for the development of a cultural center or museum for the small village of 400, a 2-hour drive on an unpaved road from the next larger community. To that end, I have scoured the literature on small indigenous museums and cultural centers for models and have found very few. One of the better resources is Sustainable Cultural Tourism: Small Scale Solutions by Susan M. Guyette, a rather encyclopedic approach to the concept.
Last year I asked Rebecca Bria, the founder and co-director of PIARA, if the Hualcayán community really wanted a museum or were they really more interested in economic, educational, and health care development. She emphatically responded that through her five-year engagement with the community, they expressed that a museum, a physical structure to showcase their heritage was a primary need. Rebecca’s assessment came through quite clear in the discussion with the Hualcayán teachers I posted about last week. The teachers want a written record of Hualcayán generated.
Another example of meeting a community expressed need came last week in a classroom project with Hualcayán high school students carried out by Karissa Deiter and Hannah McAllister. They adapted the quipu exercise from Archaeologyland for this project. After introducing the importance of artifacts in telling the stories of the past, Karissa and Hannah used quipus as an example of how past societies recorded information. Each student then created their own quipu string that recorded their age, numbers of siblings, and so forth. The project was originally designed so that each student would create their own quipu, yet the teacher and students decided that the individual strings would be tied to a unified class quipu. Minimally, the quipu will live on at the school and ideally will become in “artifact” in the community’s museum set to open on August 2nd. After the quipu demonstration, the history teacher decided that the next project was to develop a timeline of the entire Hualcayán community. To that end Karissa and other members of the PIARA team will lead the high school students on a tour of the archaeological site, the research lab, and more.
As I noted in last week’s post, from the very inception, the in-class presentations developed for this summer in Hualcayán were based on the previously expressed needs of the teachers and community. The PIARA team put together projects that were then modified and further developed on the spot by the community members. Ultimately, the product is tailored to the needs of the visitor/student/community member and not the museum. This approach strikes me as a method that emphasizes a bottom-up method for co-creation.
What are your experiences with this type of co-creation process?
I am in Hualcayán, Peru through the first part of August as a part of the Proyecto de Investigación Arqueológico Regional Ancash (PIARA) Team that conducts archaeological research, cultural heritage, and economic development in this small 400-person village in the Andes highlands. I first became interested in PIARA several years ago when I posted an interview with the founder and current Co-Director of PIARA, Rebecca Bria. I now have the opportunity of joining with PIARA and leveraging resources, building relationships and providing educational opportunities in my capacity as Director of the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa and professor in the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program at the University of Memphis.
I consider the very essence of co-creation to be the process by which all parties approach an issue on equal footing to address a need. To that end, this summer PIARA is partnering with teachers in the Hualcayán school to create educational resources based on their specific requests of the community. The expressed needs center on health care, global warming, education, cultural heritage and economic development.
This past Monday evening members of the PIARA team met with six teachers from the Hualcayán school about our participation in classes over the next three weeks. The meeting was very productive in laying out a strategy for our work. At one point, the history teacher for the high school Maestro Leodain noted that he had textbooks on the history of Peru, but there was no resource on the history of the Hualcayán community itself. He identified such a resource as a true need for the community.
The discussion then turned to using the Flip video cameras donated to the Hualcayán school by WriteMemphis in Tennessee, U.S. as a tool for collecting oral histories about the community. All agreed that a 50-page or so small paperback book would be ideal to present the synthesis of the oral history interviews. Elizabeth Cruzado Carranza PIARA Co-Director noted that a book format would exclude many elderly in the community who did not read and only spoke Quechua. A video available on DVD and electronically could help disseminate the history beyond the printed page.
The consensus of the meeting was to move forward with the oral history project. The planned class presentations for the next three weeks to the high school students were modified to include training on the use of Flip cameras to record oral history projects. The students will be guided in creating a set of questions to ask their parents and elders about Hualcayán history. The students will also consider other materials where historic information on the community might be obtained. When Elizabeth and I return to Hualcayán this coming January for a brief visit, we can assemble the information obtained by the students in a book form for publication. The final draft will be sent to the teachers of the Hualcayán school for their final editing. We project publishing the book and DVD by the Third Annual Cultural Heritage Festival in August of 2015.
I often quote John Cotton Dana who wrote nearly 100 years ago in The New Museum, “Learn what aid the community needs: fit the museum to those needs.” In the above example, the community needs a documentation of their history. PIARA is being fit to co-create that product.
The meeting was a learning experience for everyone. For the PIARA Team, we learned that our practice of listening and being responsive to the expressed community needs continues to be an effective tool to live into our mission. The teachers attending learned that the obstacles of creating a resource on the community history could be overcome. PIARA could not create a history of Hualcayán book without community input. Prior to the Monday meeting, the community had not identified a way to create such a product. Together, both parties will co-create the history. Stay tuned to see how this project develops.