Visual technologies continue to shift research and dissemination in the humanities and social sciences, and the museum is no exception. Yet despite increasingly popular conceptions that the humanities have entered a post-theoretical age—which are in large part driven by processes of data digitization, technological choices remain subject to intellectual perspectives, methodological assumptions, and practical motivations.

Paul R. Christians from Open Hand Studios will explore the concept of and possibilities for virtual museums as created social spaces, using multimedia examples from Open Hand’s recent work in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, what opportunities do virtual museums create for responsive, educative dialog between diverse communities? How can virtual museums contribute to a development paradigm that moves beyond enduring conceptions of aid as a one-way transaction? Finally, what are ways digital media such as video, audio, photography, and interactives can positively augment these processes?

Paul R. Chrisitans is Executive Director of Open Hand Studios. He is a curator and educator with an MA in anthropology from the University of Chicago, where he focused on cultural heritage in developing communities. He has worked in museum settings from creating content and community relations to the Petra: Lost City of Stone traveling exhibition.

Open Hand Studios is a US-based creative nonprofit that builds partnerships to preserve cultural heritage while helping communities independently meet the unique challenges they face—pressing everyday needs such as clean water, sustainable food, job opportunities, or better education. Their projects nurture social justice by bringing together scholars, organizations, and community partners to protect, celebrate, and share endangered cultures.

Chair: Nefissa Naguib, Senior Researcher, CMI

In association with Africa Network Norway.