Hacking Heritage: A New Research Project

In May 2014, my colleague Karin Wenz and I submitted an application for a new research project: “Hacking Heritage“. Recently, we received great news: the project has been granted by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and will now be pursued as part of our research at Maastricht University.

For “Hacking Heritage”, we will cooperate with partners from creative industries and cultural institutions in the Limburg (NL) region:

Together, we will investigate and explore how cultural assets, such as the mining heritage in Limburg, may be combined and redesigned by using digital technologies. We will particularly focus on the relevance of hacking and making communities and their involvement in cultural institutions. What we intend to address are the ways in which new user practices can relate to heritage: by hacking those objects, turning them into digital data and visualisations, by interacting creatively with material and digital tools.

Smart house, created by the ACKspace (Heerlen, NL) during the “Hack your Heritage” event at the Continium Discovery Center in Kerkrade.

“Hacking Heritage” will also kick of my new research focus: I am currently developing a postdoctoral research project which will investigate how communities such as hacker- and makerspaces may cooperate with museums. I am particularly interested in the following aspects:

  • What kind of collaborations between hacker-/makerspaces and museums can we observe? Where is this trend coming from, in a geographical as well as cultural sense? How has it been influenced by recent events and to what extent can we relate it to an ongoing ‘rehabilitation’ of hacking in our post-Snowden era?
  • What kinds of interaction between hackers, makers and ‘amateur audiences’ in museum events can we observe? Hackers and makers are ‘digital experts’, but how do they see their societal role? How did they develope their fascination for and expertise in digital technologies? How can non-expert users get inspired by their work and get involved themselves?
  • What national differences regarding the likeliness and types of collaborations between hacker-/makerspaces and museums can we observe: particularly seeing historical political constellations and with regards to the ways in which ‘hacking’ is culturally framed? I am trying to establish contacts with hackerspaces in Romania, in particular, so if you are interested, please get in touch!

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