Maya Darrell Hewins

Managing digital archives of heritage film as a sustainable community resource content

Managing digital archives of heritage film as a sustainable community resource

Maya is investigating access and sustainability issues in community-led moving image archiving initiatives, with an emphasis on social sustainability and (re)use of collections.

While communities, groups and individuals have always collected material that they value as their own heritage, the presence of such groups has been increasingly recognised nationally, through heritage networks, by institutional organisations and by funding bodies.

Community-led collecting can challenge the relationships between institutional repositories and the public, address issues of power and control and has the potential to posit new approaches to heritage. This research considers social behaviours that influence the work and functions of community heritage groups, such as time, skills, knowledge, financial position, age, gender, politics, mainstream exclusion/misrepresentation (i.e. BAME, LGBT+, Indigenous identity), and individual motivations. These present both challenges and opportunities to making community heritage material accessible – and this research argues that sustainability is reliant on accessibility. Social behaviours are particularly important in the current digital transition, and it is stressed that digitisation should not be seen as a catch-all solution to sustainability for community heritage groups. However, digital technology is a vital part of access for moving image material, and this is considered and critiqued against its’ effectiveness in supporting the social and community networks and engagement from individuals and organisations that will ultimately ensure the long-term sustainability of a community archive as a living and useful resource.

This research adopts a case study and action research approach, working closely with participating groups and individuals, supported by feedback and opinions from a wider group of respondents to report on strategies that might help community-led archives of moving images to develop their work in their communities and plan for the future lives of their collections.

Maya is supervised by Dr Simon Clarke and Dr Dòmhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart.

This PhD is funded by the European Social Fund and Scottish Funding Council as part of Developing Scotland’s Workforce in the Scotland 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Fund Programme.

Research interests

Other research interests include early moving image technology, digital and analogue restoration techniques, alternative approaches to moving image preservation and presentation, artists’ film and video, expanded cinema and audio-visual performance practices.

Academic Responsibilities

  • Postgraduate elective module: Creative Reuse of Archive Film
  • Undergraduate workshop: Introduction to Moving Image