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The Access For who? Podcast hosted by Chao Taiyana Maina and Molemo Moiloa is a five part mini-series that looks to begin a conversation on digitisation of African heritage. While digitisation is often considered a strategy for future oriented safe keeping, distribution and greater engagement, they ask: For who? And for what purposes? And are we making decisions about digitisation that ensure these objectives are met in ethical, equitable ways?

In order to explore, and think together about the difficult questions that digitisation of African heritage brings to the fore they have spoken with practitioners, primarily from the African continent, across the spectrum of heritage, digital, intellectual property and museum work. Among them are Temi Odumosu, Nothando Migogo, Neema Iyer, Minne Atairu, Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, Golda Ha-Eiros, Andrea Wallace, Samba Yonga and Mulenga Kapwepwe.

The podcast is produced by Chao Tayiana Maina and Molemo Moiloa with Phumzile Nombuso Twala and Lethabolaka Gumede on research. Thank you to Josh Chiundiza for the music, Karugu Maina on design and Annelien van Heymbeeck on editing.

This podcast is brought to you by the Open Restitution Africa project, a collaboration between African Digital Heritage and Andani.Africa. It was made possible by the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss as part of the 99 Questions Podcast series and was developed within the framework of a 99 Questions Residency.

For wider accessibility of the podcast’s subject matter, transcripts of the episodes are available in English, French and German through a free zine on the Humboldt Forum and Open Restitution Africa website. (Please note that the German zine will follow soon.)

 

Access for who? Trailer

This trailer briefly explains what to expect on Access for who? hosted by Chao Taiyana Maina and Molemo Moiloa.

They explore digital restitution in detail; if digital restitution is being presented as a strategy for safe keeping and preservation, they ask: for who? And for what purposes? And do the decisions about digitisation ensure these objectives are met in ethical, equitable ways?

 

Episode 1 – Digital from an African perspective

with Temi Odumosu, Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, Mulenga Kapwepwe, Neema Iyer

In this episode our two hosts and their guests begin by reflecting on the opportunities that digital technology presents for African societies while confronting the inequalities and biases it entrenches. Together they explore notions of digital access and digital neutrality in the context of African languages, histories and knowledge systems as they reflect on what it means to create equitable digital futures within and outside museum spaces.

 

Episode 2.1 – Digital Collections

with Temi Odumosu, Golda Ha-Eiros, Samba Yonga, Mulenga Kapwepwe

This episode takes a deep dive into the origins of museum practice and the colonial origins of museum collections. How did Western museums end up amassing hundreds of thousands of objects? How does this legacy influence digitisation today? The discussants explore ways in which African museum practitioners are going beyond these entrenched legacies to create innovative approaches that center indigenous knowledge and prioritize people over objects.

 

Episode 2.2 – Digital Collections

with Temi Odumosu, Minne Atairu, Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, Samba Yonga, Mulenga Kapwepwe, Neema Iyer

In this episode the discussants reflect on digital practice as a form of repair, care and knowledge creation. Faced with challenges around access to data, absence of archives and physical removal of objects from communities – How are digital collections creating room for new African narratives and imaginations? What potential does digital restitution hold for African heritage? And how can this contribute to the physical return of artifacts?

 

Episode 3 – Ownership and Intellectual Property Collections

with Nothando Migogo, Andrea Wallace, Mulenga Kapwepwe

This episode explores the complex and entangled questions around legal ownership of digital collections in the face of already contested physical collections. While Western IP systems are built around individual ownership, indigenous knowledge systems are designed to have communal and collective benefits. What limitations and dangers does this present in the context of mass digitisation? Who has the right to make digital copies in the first place? And how can we imagine legal ownership outside Western oriented frameworks?

 

Episode 4 – African Data Futures

with Angela Okune, Temi Odumosu, Minne Atairu, Andrea Wallace, Neema Iyer

As the two hosts and their guests move towards the end of the series they ask – How can we build sustainable digital infrastructure that is people centered and Africa centered? They reflect on indigenous data sovereignty, data stewardship and creative strategies towards collective care for digital data. Positing that digital collections are not a point of reversal to an idealized past but rather a point of departure towards a collectively imagined future.

 

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