Cultural Property on Google Maps – pros and cons

After reading Shelly Drummond-Demolli’s Jan 26 , 2011 Publore post on heritage mapping it got me thinking a bit.

There have been some new great uses of the Internet for teaching about and displaying digital cultural heritage materials.  For example, the work done by folklorist Dale Jarvis using twitter, google maps, and iPhones to share this kind of material has been very popular, both with communities wanting a presence and tourists and voyeurs looking to get a real sense of place.

But I wonder about cultural property issues with this type of global transmission.  Most trained ethnographers will make sure they have permission (release forms) to distribute cultural property before it goes online, but how do we ensure that all material is reviewed by stakeholders and vetted?

I like the open source Content Management System (CMS), Mukurtu, developed by Kim Christen and her colleagues for letting communities/users control who can access digital cultural materials. But it is not as easy to customize and populate a CMS as it is to create and link to digital cultural heritage on a “google my map” and requires community/stakeholder involvement and review of materials, and significantly more funding.

I’d love to hear what you think!

Dale Jarvis speaks about the art of storytelling on the world wide web:

Google my maps tutorial video:

Google map workshop:

Comments (3)

  1. Article by Grace-Yvette Gemmell, 06.04.14:

    “… as anthropologist Hugh Brody once succinctly put it: ‘When social scientific work is undertaken at least in part to convey another people’s sense of their needs, the problems are as much political as they are methodological.’”

    “Maps have long served to formalize authority over peoples and their lands and resources. This is particularly evident within the context of the subjugation of indigenous peoples where land itself has been an instrument in the service of subjugation even as indigenous communities have remained deeply invested in local topographies. Given that indigenous sovereignty is something that must be continually reasserted, maps do prove powerful tools for influencing both national and international policy, upholding territorial rights involving sovereign and ceded lands, as well as in maintaining or revitalizing cultural practices, including culturally specific relationships to collectively-held lands.”

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