Studying and Mobilizing the Impacts of Anthropological Data in Archives

  • Diana E. Marsh
  • Ricardo L. Punzalan


This chapter focuses on the impacts of anthropology’s digital data, and the particular challenges anthropological and ethnographic data held in archival repositories present for anthropologists, information scholars, and institutions. Over the past 20 years, the field of anthropology has changed dramatically, as have the records anthropologists produce. Today, the preservation and stewardship of anthropological records face new challenges as anthropologists create records in a wider range of formats, the reuse of these materials changes, and both researchers and repositories shift their ethical attitudes. We share new research as well as applied approaches to understanding the impact of these shifts drawing on two current research projects and an interdisciplinary Wenner-Gren–sponsored workshop held in June 2016 to revitalize the Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records (CoPAR). This chapter has two parts. First, we discuss two research projects tracking trends and impacts in reuses of anthropological data in digitized archival collections: “Valuing Our Scans: Understanding the Impacts of Digitized Native American Ethnographic Archives” and “Researching the Digital Turn: Documenting the Impacts of Digital Knowledge Sharing in Indigenous Communities.” Second, we highlight our applied work to revitalize CoPAR and how CoPAR aims to address the challenges outlined in our research by creating professional consensus around data access and reuse.


Data curation Archives Communities Reuse Digital archives Museums Knowledge sharing Impact Preservation Users Repositories Indigenous collections Colonial records Collaboration Access 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana E. Marsh
    • 1
  • Ricardo L. Punzalan
    • 2
  1. 1.National Anthropological ArchivesNational Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian InstitutionWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.University of Maryland College of Information StudiesCollege ParkUSA

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