Update: We’ve added links to the bottom of this post to view some archived images already digitized by Keller that’s available via the British Library.
Hoping to preserve cultural heritage and change Western thought on Africa, a Michigan State University researcher will use a $300,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to digitize 100,000 original black-and-white negatives of Mali’s most important photographers, dating from the 1940s.
Candace Keller, assistant professor of African art history and visual culture, is collaborating with MSU’s MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences and the Maison Africaine de la Photographie in Bamako, Mali, to create the Archive of Malian Photography.
Once complete, the publicly accessible, free database will provide valuable documentation of the modernization of Western Africa, featuring family portraits and photos of military activities, diplomatic visits, political events, national monuments, architecture, cultural and religious ceremonies and other aspects of popular culture, she said.
By digitizing, cleaning and rehousing the negatives, Keller and her team hope to protect them from further climatic damage caused by flooding, extreme temperatures, dust and poor storage conditions. In addition, providing access to only low-resolution photos renders them unusable in print – yet still accessible for research and scholarship – thereby protecting photos from further exploitation on the global market.
Keller’s current two-year project is the second phase of the Archive of Malian Photography project. She and her team have already digitized 28,000 Malian photos using a grant from the British Library Endangered Archives Programme.
Read the Complete Announcement
See Also: NEH Grant Announcement and Abstract