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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access May 11, 2019

The Female Gaze? Postmodernism and the Search for Women in the Digitized Photographic Collections of Swedish Memory Institutions

  • Rachel Pierce EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Information Science


Both the photograph and digitization are often defined as democratizing forces. But neither exists outside the system of power dynamics that structure art, history, and cultural heritage. This article uses postmodernist theorization of knowledge hierarchies in the archive developed by archival scholars Terry Cook and Joan Schwartz to examine the gendered nature of metadata and data connected to digitized photographic material available on the platforms of the three major Swedish memory institutions: the Royal Library, the Nordic Museum, and the National Archives. Given that digitized photographs require the addition of machine-readable data and metadata to be findable, this information demonstrates the extent to which digitization staffs have consciously thought about the visibility of gender in their online collections. The research questions of this article are thus twofold: (1) to what extend have Swedish memory institutions embraced a postmodern approach to the archive in their photography digitization projects, and (2) has this approach resulted in the greater visibility of women-oriented material? The findings indicate that Swedish institutions have adopted postmodernist thinking about archival flexibility to varying degrees, but none have thought thoroughly about increasing the visibility of woman-oriented material.


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Received: 2018-11-30
Accepted: 2019-02-25
Published Online: 2019-05-11

© 2019 Rachel Pierce, published by De Gruyter Open

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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