Photographic Digital Heritage: Institutions, Communities and The Political

19 (09:15) - 20/10/2021 (15:30)
To register please click here. For further information please email

Online conference organised by the DigiCONFLICT Research Consortium in partnership with the National Trust, 19-20 October 2021

Livestream Programme

Photographic Digital Heritage: Institutions, Communities and The Political intends to explore how uses of digital technology, and digitisation in particular, have transformed the ways in which historical photographs of value to perceived inherited cultural legacies are collected, deployed and identified as such. It will specifically investigate what has led formal heritage and memory institutions to drive this process, how heritage communities might have navigated their aspirations around it, and how political interest groups have taken advantage of it to promote their causes.

Photography and heritage became well-entangled long before the rise of digital technology. In fact, their connection has been highly influential, if not essential, to the development of heritage practices that one may by now take for granted. While some scholars have already considered the impact exerted by digitisation practices on approaches to photographic image-objects, much of this work tends to evaluate how the creation of digital photographic surrogates has undermined conventional archival documentation and preservation practices. In this regard, research around this area has largely taken issue with questions concerning provenance, cataloguing, dematerialisation, and media-morphosis, as a means to increase awareness of the potential loss of historical data that might result from the conversion of analogue photo collections into digital databases.

Bringing together photography and heritage scholars, policymakers, and community organisers, Photographic Digital Heritage: Institutions, Communities and The Political is designed to expand the discussion on the entanglement of photography and digital heritage into the political environment—where human diversity often gives rise to antagonistic sentiments. It is therefore geared towards unravelling how “the political” has conditioned digitisation practices, while equally looking into the ways in which photographic digital heritage has facilitated innovative hegemonic and anti-hegemonic aspirations in national and inter-national social settings.


Speakers will consider interrelated topics, including:

• the influence that photographic digitisation practices have exerted on definitions of heritage assets;

• the effect of photographic digitisation on institutional practices and policies;

• uses of photographic digital heritage for community building and activism;

• the employment of photographic digital heritage by governing powers;

• and the effect of photographic digital heritage on social and inter-generational communications about history, memory and the past.


Livestreamed online, the conference will provide multiple opportunities for knowledge exchange among the participants while enabling engagement with comments and questions from the public of viewers.

Regional organisation: Professor Gil Pasternak (DigiCONFLICT / De Montfort University) in partnership with Dr Catherine Troiano (The National Trust).




09.15-09.45 INTRODUCTION

• Gil Pasternak (DigiCONFLICT / De Montfort University) and Catherine Troiano (The National Trust) | Welcoming Remarks

• Gil Pasternak (DigiCONFLICT / De Montfort University) | Historical Photographs and Digital Heritage: A Critical Introduction


Jane Lydon (University of Western Australia) | Indigenous Uses of Photographic Digital Heritage in Postcolonising Australia

11.00-13.00 BREAK

13.00-15.30 PANEL I: Institutions

• Christo Kefalas (The National Trust) | Ethical Questions of Institutional Photography in Cataloguing, Digitisation and Public Reach

• Françoise Poos (Esch2022 Director Cultural Programme) | Fortress Walls and Legionnaires: Digital Cultural Heritage at the M3E, Luxembourg

• Donna West Brett (University of Sydney) | Operation Overlord: Civilian Photography and Artistic Mediation

• Debbie Cooper and Paul Herrmann (The Photographic Collections Network - PCN) | Towards a Distributed National Photography Collection



09.00-11.00 PANEL II: Communities

• Geoff Broadway (The Living Memory Project) | The Living Memory Project: Personal Photography Collections and Life Stories

• Anand Chhabra (The Apna Heritage Archive) | Punjabi Migration to the Black Country: A Photographic Journey through History, Cultures and Digital Technology

• Catherine Troiano (The National Trust) | Dilemmas of Digitisation: Considering Community as Cataloguing Strategy

11.00-13.00 BREAK

13.00-15.30 PANEL III: The Political

• Kylie Thomas (Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies - NIOD) | Digital Visual Activism: Photography and the Re- Opening of the Unresolved Truth and Reconciliation Commission Cases in Post- Apartheid South Africa

• Denis Skopin (St Petersburg State University) | Sheltering the Ghosts? Digitised Photographs of Political Victims and World War II Veterans on Russian Online Databases

• Christina Riggs (Durham University) | Reborn-Digital Tutankhamun: Howard Carter and an Egyptian Archaeologist, Name Unknown

• Michelle Hamers (De Montfort University) | The UNRWA Film and Photo Archive


DigiCONFLICT is a Research Consortium funded by the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change (European Commission, Horizon 2020; implemented in the UK by the Arts and Humanities Research Council - AHRC). Its founding research partners are based at De Montfort University (United Kingdom), Liber pro Arte (Poland), and Linköping University (Sweden), each exploring the impact of digital heritage in nationally-framed cultural conflicts. While acknowledging the role digitisation and digitalisation have played in shaping transnational attitudes to cultural heritage, members of the DigiCONFLICT Research Consortium contest common convictions about the allegedly universal and democratic nature of digital heritage. Recognising the role digital heritage has played in increasing access to cultural heritage and in making cultural heritage products readily available across borders, they nevertheless pay particular attention to the ways in which the rising prominence of digital heritage has also resulted in increased social inequalities and escalating cultural divides. Alongside academic and scholarly outputs, members of the DigiCONFLICT Research Consortium deliver conferences, workshops, talks, and community engagement events to demonstrate how different professional, ethnic, national, civil and other interest groups have employed digital heritage to advance their social, political, cultural or economic priorities.


Bookings will close 1 hour prior to the start of the event, and registrants will receive a link to join the online event 24hrs before the event, via their provided email address.

Please contact the DMU Events Office on if you have any questions.

This event is open to all.

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