About me

dagny stuedahl - vaxsjoI am ethnologist with special interest in participatory involvement in design and research. I have especially focused on how cultural studies and cultural theory may be applied in processes of designing of digital interactions in the cultural heritage field.

Most of the project I have been involved in has been related to Digital Cultural Heritage and New Heritage field. I have especially been concerned with issues of museums in the 21th century, the distributed museum and museum communication outside of traditional museum spaces. I am concerned with how these emerging forms of museum communication encounter processes of reflection and meaning making in dynamics of peoples everyday life. Thus, I explore how concepts from cultural studies, such as continuity, resistance, agency and identity may inform design of digital heritage technologies. Digital technologies represent a new actor that influences and in influenced by how culture and cultural heritage knowledge is conceptualised in computer based systems, digital applications and social media – all different technologies that place people and knowledge in different roles and modalities.

This conceptual/theoretical foundation has been applied in the cultural heritage field and in interdisciplinary research projects I have participated in such as MULTIMO (researching MultiModal discourses) at InterMedia (2004), my postdoc project RENAME (Research, Narrative and Mediation) at Department of Media and Communication (2004-2008), and thereafter in the current research project CONTACT (Communicating Organizations in Art and Cultural Heritage Technologies) at InterMedia/Department of Education, University of Oslo (2009-2013). I locate my research in the emerging fields Digital Cultural Heritage and New Heritage – and have focused on the transformation of practices related to participatory and community building including communication technologies across cultural heritage research, museums and cultural heritage organisations and NGOs, with a particular focus on voluntary and out-of-institution settings.

For example, have I explored how meta-data standards of archiving influence documentation practices in cultural heritage research of craft practice. And discuss how digital standards of metadata of databases in fact partly disrupt the dynamics of embodied and tacit cultural heritage practices. Documentation of cultural heritage processes does differ from documentation of museum objects depending on that the knowledge is embedded in the processes as much as in the object. While ontologies of databases represent a powerful structuring of documentation, it also represents a major obstacle for the multimodality of cultural heritage representations.

Digital recording and re-presentation of cultural heritage artifacts, stories, tools and sites increase productive and re-productive capacities which involves new meditational practices including configurations of technology and people in new heritage practices. E.g. in the Gokstadboat-project/RENAME I have found that while social media as blog and Facebook may be a suitable tool for communicating the acts of cultural heritage practices using photographs and video recordings, these media are less suitable to mediate knowledge and skills related to the embodied and tacit knowledge in traditional craft. This deeper level of cultural heritage knowledge is related to an understanding of the texture and structure of physical materials, which is dependent on longer term participation and cultural learning that digital mediation hardly can cover. The digital mediation and representation of cultural heritage knowledge and practices does in this way only substitute part of analogue mediation and representation – but opens at the same time new forms of social and cultural online meditational spaces

Participation in cultural heritage practices and issues is another main theme of my work. I have focused on visitors participatory based mediation in museum exhibition, with a special focus on young visitors. And recently, in the CONTACT project, on peoples engagement with mobile social media with industrial heritage content in the city. I have explored museums possibilities for inviting audiences into participatory engagement by way of applied, experimental methods. In this research, I have integrated participatory research methods developed in the research fields Participatory Design and Co-Design. These research areas stem from the democratic participatory action research tradition. I currently apply this user involvement in collaborative research approach in the National research project, Expand focusing on interactions in exhibitions in science centers.