Haidy Geismar will speak in the Brown Bag Lunch series on Thursday, September 24, 2015. Her talk is entitled “From Material to Digital: New Directions in Material Culture and Museum Studies.”

Haidy Geismar is Reader in Anthropology at University College London, where she directs the Digital Anthropology program, part of the Material, Visual and Digital culture research arm of the department, and curates the UCL Ethnography Collections. Currently, she is a Research Fellow at Bard Graduate Center. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from University College London. With extensive research experience in museums in the Pacific, Europe and North America and with communities in Vanuatu and New Zealand, she has published widely on the museum history of anthropology and photography, material culture studies, intellectual and cultural property rights, indigenous arts movements, and digital museum initiatives. As well as teaching, research and publishing, she has curated several international exhibitions, most recently the Guantanamo Public Memory Project exhibition in London, and the exhibition Port Vila Mi Lavem Yu, in Honolulu and New York. Her book, Moving Images: John Layard, Fieldwork and Photography on Malakula since 1914, coauthored with curators in Cambridge and Vanuatu, was awarded the 2012 Collier Prize for Still Photography by the Society for Visual Anthropology. Her most recent book, Treasured Possessions: Indigenous Interventions into Cultural and Intellectual Property (Duke UP, 2013), compares indigenous appropriations of intellectual and cultural property in museum and art worlds in Vanuatu and New Zealand. She is the founder and editor of the popular anthropology weblog, www.materialworldblog.com, and co-editor of the Journal of Material Culture. Her current research project is a comparative study of the nature of digital objects in contexts as varied as Instagram, Maori-made 3D collections, and open source collections management systems.

At Bard Graduate Center, Professor Geismar will speak on “From Material to Digital: New Directions in Material Culture and Museum Studies.” She will set out the agenda for her research into the nature of digital objects, with a specific focus on museum and archiving projects. The book she will be working on while in residence at Bard Graduate Center will link several case studies to an extended essay on the implications and contributions of digital technologies for material culture theory. It proposes a new methodology and critical perspective on the growing literature around digital projects in museums through an ethnographic examination of the nature of digital materialities and of the making and use of digital objects. In her talk, Dr. Geismar will draw on a number of digital museum projects and address some current trends in material culture theory, arguing that a focus on the nature of digital materialities can pull us out of interpretive traps surrounding our understanding of digital objects. As a case study, she will focus on a lengthy research project with Maori artists and communities in New Zealand that used digital technologies to reframe and reconnect ethnographic collections to “source communities.” Focusing on an unprovenanced Maori cloak in the UCL Ethnography collections, she will question the cultural nature of the digital, and present some alternative cultural analytics for understanding and experiencing digital collections.

Coffee and tea will be served; attendees are welcome to bring their own lunch.

RSVP is required.