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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Heritage Data Activism (fusion on-site) (EFIE11217)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course explores data practices of heritage-based activism that leverage museum collections, heritage places, and intangible heritage meanings to express identities and create social and political change today.
Course description This course will examine how activism is performed through the past in a world where access to and use of digital technologies is uneven. At the time of the data deluge, and an increasingly interconnected web, new ways are emerging to 'use' the past to express identities and create social and political change. This change can contribute to the creation of either inclusive or exclusive societies, by fostering respectful or antagonistic ideas of 'others'. In this course, students will explore the data practices, contexts and outcomes underpinned by digitally enabled activism.

The course will start with an introduction to the key concept of heritage data activism, drawing on notions of heritage, heritage-based activism, data activism and data practices. Thereafter, it will consider processes and outcomes of digitally enabled social and political activism. Students will learn how museums, archives, heritage places and grassroots communities can activate digital repairs of social fabrics through practices of critical web collecting, digital curation and digital cultural engagement. They will also be introduced to divisive data practices of activism that use the past to support the antagonization of outgroups, whether through hate speech, discrimination or the support of violent extremism. Such uses of the past foster divisiveness towards others based on religion, race, political identity, culture or origin. Finally, the course will examine the features relating to content and context - including the role of heritage 'experts' - that lead to the success of certain forms of heritage-based activism online.

Students will learn through a combination of: mini lectures followed by group discussion; individual reading; supervised group activities; individual research and knowledge exchange as well as creative communication of research findings. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on case studies of their choice in the pre-intensive, and to choose from a range of given case studies for supervised group activities during the intensive. Case studies will cover a range of forms of inclusive and divisive activism in different cultural and geo-political contexts. Guest lecturers will be invited, to enhance interdisciplinary teaching and offer students the opportunity to connect with key heritage professionals in academia and beyond.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - On-Site Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities.

Students should be aware that:
- Classrooms used in this course will have additional technology in place: students might not be able to sit in areas away from microphones or outside the field of view of all cameras.
- Unless the lecturer or tutor indicates otherwise you should assume the session is being recorded.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 6, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 8, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 84 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course embraces an assessment for learning philosophy, which will be explained to students from the outset (through the course description and on Day 1 of the intensive).

Assessments are seen as means of scaffolding and facilitating learning throughout the 5 weeks.

In line with this ethos, the assessments are designed as follows:

Formative Assessment:

Formative Assessment can be defined as learning and teaching activities that will not contribute to your the course's final mark/grade. The purpose of Formative Assessment is to provide high quality feedback to students on their current knowledge and skills so that these can be developed and demonstrated in subsequent summative assessments.

1) Discussion Board Post

By the end of week 1 of the pre-intensive, students will share a post (ca 500 words) presenting the individual research they conducted on a case study of activism of their choice. By the end of week 2 of the pre-intensive, students will comment on one post shared by one of their colleagues in week one (ca 100 wordst). This component of the assessment will be formative. It is important that it happens during the pre-intensive, to encourage students to interact with one another early on, and to engage deeply with the materials and research process. Importantly, it will not be graded to ensure students feel comfortable to explore and express their ideas openly in the shared space of the discussion group.

Summative Assessment:

2) Reflective Blog Post (100%)

Students will enhance and complete, through additional reading and individual research, the critical evaluation of the case of heritage-based activism started as a group activity during the intensive. They will communicate the processes and outcomes of this evaluation to an adult public audience, through a blog post (ca 900 words with at least two visuals and 4 key references). This assessment component will be submitted at the end of Week 5 or the first day of week 6. It will be graded and make up 100% of the overall assessment.
Feedback Feedback will be provided throughout the intensive: by answering questions after the mini lectures, through discussions and by interacting with students during the 8 hours dedicated to group activities. In addition, one hour of focused formative feedback is included, at the end of the second day of intensive teaching. During this session, students will present and receive feedback on the group activity they conducted and which constitutes the starting point for their summative assessment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate understanding of how activist data practices that leverage tangible and intangible aspects of the past can lead to the expression of inclusive or exclusive identities and social change.
  2. Conduct both individual and collaborative research into the role of different online environments and data practices in facilitating activism, in different personal, socio-cultural and geo-political contexts.
  3. Evaluate the social change activated by heritage-based forms of activism implemented by different actors including museums, libraries, archives, citizens, parties and politicians.
  4. Communicate the outcomes of critical evaluations of heritage data activism to a public adult audience.
Reading List
Essential Reading:

Marichal, Jose. 'Political Facebook Groups: Micro-Activism and the Digital Front Stage'. First Monday 18, no. 12 (2 December 2013).

Bonacchi, Chiara, Mark Altaweel, and Marta Krzyzanska. 'The Heritage of Brexit: Roles of the Past in the Construction of Political Identities through Social Media'. Journal of Social Archaeology 18, no. 2 (9 March 2018): 174-92.

Milan, Stefania, and Lonneke van der Velden. 'The Alternative Epistemologies of Data Activism'. Digital Culture & Society 2, no. 2 (1 December 2016): 57-74.

Thompson, Terrie Lynn. 'Data-Bodies and Data Activism: Presencing Women in Digital Heritage Research'. Big Data & Society 7, no. 2 (July 2020): 205395172096561.

Recommended Reading:

Ames, Sarah, and Stuart Lewis. 'Disrupting the Library: Digital Scholarship and Big Data at the National Library of Scotland'. Big Data & Society 7, no. 2 (July 2020): 205395172097057.

Bonacchi, Chiara, and Marta Krzyzanska. 'Heritage-Based Tribalism in Big Data Ecologies: Deploying Origin Myths for Antagonistic Othering'. Big Data & Society 8, no. 1 (January 2021): 205395172110033.

Carvill Schellenbacher, Jennie. 'Museums, Activism and Social Media (or, How Twitter Challenges and Changes Museum Practice)'. In Museum Activism, edited by Robert R. Janes and Richard Sandell, 380-87. Museum Meanings. Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 2019.

Cook, Katherine. 'EmboDIYing Disruption: Queer, Feminist and Inclusive Digital Archaeologies'. European Journal of Archaeology 22, no. 3 (August 2019): 398-414.

Kieffer, C. L., and Devorah Romanek. 'Crowdsourcing a Current Events Exhibition on Community Activism Against DAPL'. Curator: The Museum Journal 62, no. 2 (April 2019): 135-50.

Marwick, Ben, and Prema Smith. 'World Heritage Sites on Wikipedia: Cultural Heritage Activism in a Context of Constrained Agency'. Big Data & Society 8, no. 1 (January 2021): 205395172110173.

Morgan, Colleen, and Pierre Marc Pallascio. 'Digital Media, Participatory Culture, and Difficult Heritage: Online Remediation and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade'. Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage 4, no. 3 (2 September 2015): 260-78.

Smit, Rik, Ansgard Heinrich, and Marcel Broersma. 'Activating the Past in the Ferguson Protests: Memory Work, Digital Activism and the Politics of Platforms'. New Media & Society 20, no. 9 (September 2018): 3119-39.

Thomas, Kylie. 'Digital Visual Activism: Photography and the Re-Opening of the Unresolved Truth and Reconciliation Commission Cases in Post-Apartheid South Africa'. Photography and Culture 14, no. 3 (3 July 2021): 297-318.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop the following mindsets and skills while working to achieve the four Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) specified above and, in particular:

- Enquiry and lifelong learning (ILOs 1, 2, 3)
- Aspiration and personal development (ILOs 1, 2, 3)
- Outlook and engagement (ILOs 3, 4)
- Research and enquiry (ILOs 2, 3)
- Personal and intellectual autonomy (ILO 2)
- Personal effectiveness (ILO 4)
- Communication (ILO 4)
KeywordsHeritage,Data,Activism,Political Identities,Social Justice
Course organiserDr Chiara Bonacchi
Tel: (0131 6)50 4040
Course secretaryMr David Murphy
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