Constructing/Deconstructing Documents – Insight with Omeka

This assignment called for creating an online collection with a series of “digitized images” with Omeka. I chose something I am most familiar with, digitized documents and primary sources. The topic of my site, The Cairo List is a selection of research documents derived from my dissertation. In that regard, I chose to post several documents that either highlight different perspectives on a rather politically charged subject, the presence of Germans in Egypt between 1945 and 1965. In themselves, the documents only suggest a portion of a convoluted narrative. Taken as a whole, however, the documents highlight historical interpretations, and gain certain historical meaning in the context with the other documents. Moreover, I believe several of the documents show the importance of learning particular archival skills, while proving the difficulties for bringing archival resources to the open web.

Omeka’s interface and layout is fairly straightforward. As I was not previously acquainted with the site, I am pleased with its designated function as a platform to present collections, research, exhibits, and digital projects. In some way, I had been looking for such a digital platform to present my own research, but did not even know what I was looking for. Overall, (though skeptical of the implemented pay wall) I could see this as perhaps a vital digital resource that allows for the novice historian to create digital collections and contribute on topics personally important.

Is this an archive? I certainly do not believe so in any traditional sense. Even calling it a digital archive might be a stretch, definitely as compared to something like Rossetti Archive. It is a curated selection of images, and the images and documents I chose were compiled from a variety of sources, including ordinary internet searches, specialized databases, and archival/manuscript collections. Particularly, since the items that come from pre-existing archival structures and differing parents organization, thus the items are lose all sense of the “principle of original order.

However, at the same time, the items were specifically chosen to show that they gain a new, more nuanced, if not more historically accurate meaning, only when viewed as a whole.

 

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