At its best, cultural heritage should foster respect for cultural and social diversity and challenge taken-for-granted ideas about society. Critical heritage studies emphasises the need to include subaltern groups into nations’ cultural heritages to a greater extent. One such group is children. By approaching them as a subaltern group, children’s cultural heritage creates the opportunity to challenge taken-for-granted ideas within heritage studies, such as power relations, preservation strategies and what, and whose, heritage to preserve.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that children have a right to culture and “to participate freely in cultural life and the arts”, as does national Swedish cultural policy. However, little is known about children’s cultural heritage or their participation and representation in heritage institutions.
Children's visual voices
The aim is to explore how to collect, register, categorise, file, care for, preserve and display children’s cultural productions as sources of information about their social and cultural lives and living conditions through time. The proposed digitisation of children’s existing and new visual UNCRC materials covers a period of 30 years, starting with the Swedish ratification of the UNCRC and ending with its incorporation into Swedish law. In this way, the UNCRC data will be made digitally accessible, searchable and researchable so as to enable an exploration of the what, how, why and who of children’s cultural heritage. Children’s cultural heritage takes a critical theoretical approach that combines critical child studies, critical heritage studies and critical visual culture.
The project is divided into four workpackages
- Metadata/taxonomy UNCRC – Inventory and theoretical exploration of the SACD’s standardised taxonomy system with the help of both children’s perspectives and a child perspective.
- Digitisation and analyses of existing drawing collections focusing on UNCRC in the SACD archive focusing on children’s rights, equal value and children’s political participation.
- Collecting, digitizing and analysing a new drawing collection and interviews emphasising the Swedish legislation incorporating the UNCRC.
- Collecting, digitizing and analysing online images created by children. The collection of metadata and explorations of the ethics and preservation of children’s digital images.