Facilitating Inclusivity

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  • Title: Facilitating Inclusivity: The Politics of Access and Digitisation in a South African and Canadian Museum
  • Author(s): Laura Kate Gibson, Hannah Turner
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Inclusive Museum
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum
  • Keywords: Digitisation, Tangible vs. Intangible Heritage, Access, Ownership, Multiple Interpretations, Virtual Repatriation, Digital Divide, Luthuli Museum, Reciprocal Research Network, RRN
  • Volume: 4
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2012
  • ISSN: 1835-2014 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1835-2022 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v04i01/44364
  • Citation: Gibson, Laura Kate, and Hannah Turner. 2012. "Facilitating Inclusivity: The Politics of Access and Digitisation in a South African and Canadian Museum." The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum 4 (1): 1-14. doi:10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v04i01/44364.
  • Extent: 14 pages


This paper draws on current themes of digitisation and access in two specific museum contexts—the Reciprocal Research Network in Vancouver, Canada and the Luthuli Museum in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. As museums and cultural heritage projects engage with new digital environments, issues around access for wider communities are raised. We ask what the possibilities of open access permitted by the digital world are, and how can ideas about open access through technology be complicated by existing power structures and geographical limitations in marginalised communities. This paper draws attention to the fact that when online access is implemented, other associated issues are raised. Open access databases and catalogues do not in themselves provide inherent access to knowledge since access to them is mediated by social, economic and historical circumstances. We frame this discussion specifically within issues of the digital divide and technological infrastructure, ownership issues in an open access environment, and the subsequent challenges concerning multiple interpretations.