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The University of Montreal and of the world

The University of Montreal and of history illuminated by new technologies

Katherine Cook

Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department, Katherine Cook doesn’t want to rewrite history. She simply wants to recount it differently, by exploring people’s memories and listening to communities’ voices. 

Describing herself as a social archeologist who builds bridges between public anthropology, digital technologies, physical spaces and archives, Katherine Cook believes that “history is always written by those in power. Archeology is closely tied to colonialism.” Her research projects focus on how the concepts of race, religion and identity were experienced in the Atlantic colonies connecting Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. 

In her view, it’s important to give a voice to individuals and communities. In what she calls citizen or activist archeology, research is based on collaborating and multiplying perspectives to access a richer heritage and encourage social cohesion.

By giving a voice to those who did not have one, collaborative archeology encourages a multitude of interpretations, thereby contributing to reconstructing social memory as well as material history. According to Katherine Cook, the democratization of archeology occurs through the increasing use of new technologies, in particular social networks, that have the power to connect individuals with one another and expand access to information. 

Virtual or augmented reality can be used to build awareness and stir up memories. “More emotional and more memorable, it allows different stories to be heard,” says Katherine Cook.

By returning to the past, digging through people’s memories, Katherine Cook believes that we can “better understand and develop solutions for the present. Social archeology requires us to consider today’s society in a more long-term capacity.”

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