I am a critical information studies scholar and a current Postdoctoral Fellow at SIAT’s Making Culture Lab. I study the connection between memory, knowledge, culture and technology, and I’m interested in how ethnographic material culture knowledge has been produced and circulated using different recording and documentation technologies through time.

My dissertation research, conducted in the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMHH), examined the practices of classification and categorization in the museum’s early ethnographic collections. I argue that in order to understand and foreground postcolonial approaches to material culture and history, it is necessary to understand how historical epistemologies and technological infrastructures shape our understanding of the past. This media history of anthropology is key to understanding how documentation and bureaucracy silently embed certain epistemologies and occlude others.

I also look at how new digital technologies are used to preserve material culture in museums, and I’m concerned with ethical and appropriate uses of these tools. With the 3D digitization of museum objects for example, I question how objects are actively constructed by those who create and manipulate their digital representations, and how the practice of digitization is a negotiation between community, museum, and technological infrastructure.

You can find more about my work by reading my publications: on the politics of access and digitization (2012) in museums; on decolonizing museum documentation (2015) in the Journal Cataloging & Classification Quarterly; on the computerization of museum collections in the special issue of Museum Anthropology (Fall 2016).

I have taught classes on the preservation of digital heritage, museum collections management practice, and digital museology. I was also a research associate with the Semaphore Research Cluster at the University of Toronto, where we worked to understand children’s uses of 3D printing in Museum settings with the project “I Made This: Children’s Participatory Learning with 3D Printing”. 

I completed my undergraduate degree in Anthropology at the University of Victoria, my master’s and PhD at the University of Toronto in the Faculty of Information. From 2008-2010 I also helped build the project, The Reciprocal Research Network at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

You can find out more about me at hannahtrnr.com and on my profile at Academia.edu.