After the Return

Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge Workshop Report

in Museum Worlds
Author:
Joshua A. Bell National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution bellja@si.edu

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Kimberly Christen Washington State University kachristen@wsu.edu

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Mark Turin Yale University mark.turin@ubc.ca

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On 19 January 2012, the workshop After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge was held at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. With support from the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian’s Understanding the American Experience and Valuing World Cultures Consortia, this workshop brought together twenty-eight international participants for a debate around what happens to digital materials after they are returned to communities (however such communities are conceived, bounded, and lived). The workshop provided a unique opportunity for a critical debate about the very idea of digital return in all of its problematic manifestations, from the linguistic to the legal, as indigenous communities, archives, libraries, and museums work through the terrain of digital collaboration, return, and sharing. What follows is a report on the workshop’s presentations and discussions.

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