India’s Digital Archives: Online Spaces for Cultural Heritage

In: Asiascape: Digital Asia
Katja Müller Center for Interdisciplinary Area Studies (ZIRS), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Digital archives are spaces for managing collections and providing online access to heritage material stored in museums and archives. In India, conventions on preserving cultural heritage in combination with the national agenda of ‘Digital India’ influence recent projects on digitizing collections and creating online repositories. Looking at ‘Virtual Museums’ and ‘Euro-Indian Paintings’ as two projects initiated by the Indian Ministry of Culture, this article sheds light on the dynamics involved in digitizing Indian cultural heritage: the visions, implementation, and use of the digital collection. The projects represent substantial efforts at creating modern collection management systems that would assemble heritage information in a single, online accessible space. In practice, however, it is not only information and communications technology for development that drives the creation of digital archives but also bureaucratic habits, reluctance, and impediments to forming it. Conceptions shape digital spaces but so do their implementation and (dis)use.

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