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24 October 2023

Local Contexts Symposium hosted by King's College London Archives

Gemma Hollman, Senior Archives Assistant

On Friday 20th October, King’s College London Archives hosted an internal symposium to introduce the Local Contexts initiative.

A close up of a screen in the council room for the Local Contexts Symposium, showing the name of the symposium and the dates and hosts

On Friday 20th October, King’s College London Archives hosted an internal symposium to introduce the Local Contexts initiative. Local Contexts aims to support “Indigenous communities with tools that can reassert cultural authority in heritage collections and data” by creating labels that can be placed on websites and archive catalogues to show Indigenous intellectual and cultural property rights over items from their cultures held in institutions across the world.

The Council Room at King's College London where the symposium was held.
The Council Room at King's College London where the symposium was held.

 

Members of the Local Contexts’ team from New York University and the University of Waikato led the morning session supported by colleagues from the Wellcome Collection who conducted a pilot called ‘Indigenous Knowledges’, implementing use of the Local Contexts Notices and Labels. The afternoon saw a series of lightning talks on related projects and activities either led by or in partnership with King’s including ‘Indigenous Digital Humanities’ and ‘Repatriating a Lost Archive of the Spanish Pacific’.

We want the Symposium to mark the start of positive action: to engage with Indigenous communities represented in our collections, to correct and improve our collections information - and support King’s in the exploration of its own past

Organiser and Head of Archives & Research Collections, Cathy Williams
Maui Hudson and Dr Jane Anderson from the Local Contexts initiative opening the symposium.
Maui Hudson and Dr Jane Anderson from the Local Contexts initiative opening the symposium.

 

The day ended with a group discussion, answering questions raised by the talks and looking to the future - and especially how we as collecting and research institutions can be better and do better by recognising and acknowledging the histories of the material we hold and share. It was recognised that tackling these issues would be a slow, ongoing project that would need lots of work and, importantly, collaboration with Indigenous communities. But the mood at the end of the symposium was positive, with Samantha Callaghan, Research Software Analyst at King’s saying “it’s been really, really educational… [the Local Contexts labels] will certainly make its way into my own practice”.

We want to make it part of our practice too and if you would like to help shape how we do that, please let us know: archives@kcl.ac.uk