PEOPLE ARE KNOWLEDGE: Wikipedia, Oral Citations & Academic Authority

Friday, Feb. 3rd, 12:00 – 2:00
LB-1014, Library Building
1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd W.

CEREV presents a viewing and discussion of “People are Knowledge” (dir. by Achal Prabhala), a 45-minute film exploring the incorporation of oral citations into Wikipedia.

Discussants will include Dr. Jon Soske, History (McGill) & Dr. Monica Patterson, History/CEREV (Concordia)

Abstract: Does the internet, and particularly digital archiving, have the potential to transform the practice of academic history? Historians, on the whole, have been notably reluctant to engage with new information technologies. One reason may be the ways the internet has the potential to challenge forms of authority that have characterized history as a discipline. The historian has long occupied the role of a privileged mediator between archive and readership. But the technology now exists to integrate the full range of sources that a historian employs, including interviews, into the text of books or articles — as hypertext in foot notes, for example. Providing this type of access to readers not only opens up space for a much wider range of debates regarding our interpretive choices (which we often dissimulate in producing historical narratives); it also invites different publics to engage with academic writing as an ongoing process of knowledge production. Instead of rising to this challenge, it can be argued that the discipline has developed a mode of “hypocritical literacy”: the placing of certain technologies (like Wikipedia) outside of our research and teaching practices while continuing to defend older pedagogical forms (like the course lecture) which train students to accept information largely on the basis of a professor’s institutional authority.

Center for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence