Polyvocal Interpretations of Contested Colonial Heritage (PICCH)

Lead Research Organisation: Sheffield Hallam University
Department Name: College of Social Sciences and Arts

Abstract

Many memory institutions across Europe contain holdings connected with its colonial past which for many years has been a focus of contestation from both communities of origin, ethnic minorities and civil society at large. At the same time challenging questions are being asked by professionals in the field as to what to do with this problematic cultural heritage, from returning items when appropriate, to rewriting the historical context surrounding them in a more critical and inclusive way. This project aims to identify key instances of colonial audio-visual heritage across the three archives involved, draw a common map of shared racialised representations connected with their respective imperial contexts, identify problematic visualisation and language and open up a dialogue between the archives and a variety of users, including archivists, researchers, filmmakers, and grassroots organisations.
The digitised colonial audio-visual heritage is provided by three prominent archives The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, the French Institut national de l'audiovisuel and Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, UK. All these archives have a rich collection of original film and sound, some of it produced at the height of empire, ranging from ethnographers' footage for 'educational' purposes to more direct propaganda films to bolster colonial ideologies. We will explore how archival material created in a 'colonial mindset' can be re-appropriated and re-interpreted critically to become an effective source for the 'decolonization of the mind' and the basis for a future inclusive society.
The overall outcome of PICCH is to engender a polyvocality that can be incorporated into the archive itself providing new ways to enter and explore the past via a contemporary interpretative frame. To this effect advanced technologies will be used to study how to bridge archival and contemporary languages, and to support transnational exploration of multiple archives via a single interactive user interface.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description PICCH project website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The project website was setup:
- To disseminate the project aims and outcome, mostly via a blog.
- To collect visitors' contribution to the creation of a colonial / post-colonial vocabulary of critical terms.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://picch-project.org/
 
Description Presentation of the PICCH project to the EUscreen Foundation annual network meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact About 30 professionals from audiovisual archives across the world, mostly European, attend this event annually. In 2021 PICCH was presented as it is concerned with the analysis of audiovisual archives. The topic of European colonialism and decolonisation was very well received and created debate and interest in the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Presentation of the project to JPI-CH and partners 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This was an event organised annually by the JPI-CH to present and discuss the ongoing projects. PICCH started in June; at this event in September I presented the aim of the project and the workplan.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.heritageresearch-hub.eu/homepage/joint-programming-initiative-on-cultural-heritage-homep...