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In academia, technology is progressing rapidly and ‘digitizing’ is the new excitement that gives butterflies to the researcher’s belly. Researchers are uploading and digitizing their fieldwork findings and productions, by uploading photos to databases, creating short films, uploading books onto personal websites, or creating websites for visual consultation of their fieldwork—to name a few virtual tools. But the most interesting aspect arising from this technological progression is the way in which the virtual world is becoming a space, more or less a tool for translation. It is crossing disciplinary fields, and as a result, this overlapping is affecting the methods used in research, even the way we think and work in academia. Academia is becoming more interdisciplinary, pushing the boundaries as the exchange of ideas, methods, discourse, resources, and fieldwork approaches is becoming more fluid. As an art historian trained in the humanities, and an anthropologist trained in the social sciences, I am encountering this daily with my own work, with other undergraduate and graduate students, and even professors, librarians, Image consultants, etc.
The perspective of researching the research is different from selecting a subject or topic that appears foreign, waiting for us researchers to uncover and dissect. But with every relationship, both ends need to be heard. In this sense my primary objective is to explore researcher’s tools in the virtual world and whether virtual, specifically digital, methods have the consequence of distance, or encourage intimacy between the researcher and the subject(s), the virtual and physical world, and between disciplinary fields.
This study will push boundaries between two disciplinary fields: anthropology and art history (social sciences and the humanities) through the research of virtual spaces that act as virtual tools for the research. This will be achieved primarily by creating a database and cataloging digital images. As fields are becoming more cross interdisciplinary, the virtual world is becoming the primary space for channeling that exchange of fieldwork, discourse, methods, resources, and theories.
To read more from this paper, email art historian, Madelyne Oliver, at: