The way we describe heritage objects can help us learn about and appreciate our cultural history. However, the language used by most cultural heritage organisations to catalogue their collections is often exclusive and can be offensive to minority groups. Many institutions are aware of this problem but find it difficult to update their databases due to the large size and complexity of their collections. To help address this issue, the project DE-BIAS was proposed. DE-BIAS urges CHIs to improve the inclusiveness and representativity of cultural heritage metadata by making existing bias visible, guiding users in understanding the original context of words and providing insights into how they are currently perceived.
To accomplish this goal, the project will develop a digital tool based on a vocabulary co-created with marginalised communities that will be able to quickly individuate and target sensitive language. Moreover, DE-BIAS will provide capacity building activities for CHIs and aggregators, upskilling them and facilitating the process of detecting biassed language in metadata records of their collections. The project will contribute to dismantling racism and oppression in museums, archives, and libraries, and will bridge the gap between theory and practice by providing guidelines for making, collecting, curating, and interpreting cultural heritage in a cooperative and participatory process.
Sound & Vision will play a lead role in testing the tool's validity while engaging with community allies and ensuring that it meets the needs of cultural heritage organisations.
DFF - Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum (co-ordinator), Datoptron, European Fashion Heritage Association, ThinkCode, Michael Culture Association, European Centre for Cultural Organisation and Management, KU Leuven, Archive Portal Europe Foundation, French Ministry of Culture, Europeana Foundation, The Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision