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Leiden University Centre for Digital Humanities

Small Grants 2023 Research Projects

The LUCDH foster the development of new digital research by awarding a number of Small Grants each year. As in previous years the LUCDH received a large number of excellent grant applications for Research and Personal Development funds. Congratulations to the recipients of this year's research awards!

Small Grants 2023 Research Projects

Willemijn Heeren

Further project details to follow.

Paz Gonzalez Gonzalez & Nivja de Jong

Further project details to follow.

Rens Tacoma

Further project details to follow.

Liselore Tissen

In 1963, the Volkenkunde museum in Leiden, the Netherlands, acquired a Mesoamerican human skull covered with mosaic. Although research, proved its composition to be a forgery, it does contain an ancestral human skull that was taken and commodified as Mexican curios. This is not an exception there are many cases of cultural dispossession that indigenous communities have been subjected to.

The discussion about the repatriation and restitution of stolen or looted artifacts has been a growing topic of interest within the humanities and museums. Museums are hesitant when it comes to restitution requests and claims of their objects. One argument is that, evidently, there is only one authentic artifact. Returning the requested artifact might mean losing a precious and important object of the collection, however, for communities of origin it means the return of a piece of their culture. Unfortunately, this oftentimes results in an uneven conversation as the communities of origin are oftentimes not consulted within the decision-making process (e.g. the repatriation of Naturalis’ Java Man to Indonesia). A solution to find a compromise for these two different perspectives has not yet been provided.

Yet, recent developments in the digital and technological field might provide a solution to this ethical debate. 3D printing specifically has made it possible to create almost identical copies of any artifact. Furthermore, because the 3D model necessary to fabricate an object can be manipulated digitally (e.g. by enlarging sections) and disclosed unlimitedly, an artifact can be shown in a variety of ways, igniting new ways of interpreting and engaging with original artifacts.

This project aims to use the Mixtec skull as a case study explore the applicability of 3D printing and scanning to negotiate issues surrounding contested heritage in museums in a co-creative way.

Image 1. Mixtec Skull, 1400-1520, bone; turquoise ; shell; mother of pearl, 22,5 x 14,5 cm 20,8 x 14,1 x 17 cm, Museum Volkenkunde, RV-4007-1.
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