Elisabeth Tietmeyer & Susanne Boersma
The one-but-last Knowledge Hub before the final conference ‘Futures of Participatory Memory Work’ (KH8) was meant to take place at the Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin at the end of June 2021. With the pandemic still affecting our everyday lives, the travel restrictions at play and the uncertainties about what would come next, the only option was to meet online once again. A busy programme was ahead of us, containing sessions organised by fellows and supervisors, collaborations with the University of Hamburg and people based at cultural institutions or otherwise engaged with memory. Armed with a bottle of curry sauce, chocolate and a fresh pencil, the fellows and supervisors were all set for a ‘virtual week in Berlin’.
Knowledge Hub 7 revolved around the empirical validation of two main outputs of the POEM project: the model and the toolbox. It kicked off, however, with a session about the data management of the data gathered with our qualitative research. Our materials range from transcribed interviews to ethnographic field notes, from screenshots from personal profiles on social media to workshop outputs. Some of these are more sensitive than others. Some can be anonymised; others are clearly tied to a specific project making complete anonymisation impossible. So what happens to this data after we have completed our projects? Can we share some of it with other researchers to enable further research based on our data? And if so, what do we need to do with the materials before they can be made available to others? These questions informed rich discussions and got us thinking about the afterlife of our own projects. Reminding us that the end of the POEM project is just around the corner, we had to start thinking about what’s next.
Zooming out from our own projects to take a look at the bigger picture, the next couple of days focused on the model and the toolbox (each of these are further elaborated on in the respective articles in this newsletter). The model session helped us further define the different aspects highlighted in the model and think about the connections between projects and concepts. Work done by Master students from the department of Socio-economics at the University of Hamburg informed our conversation and helped consider the potential impact. We discussed who the model might be for, how it might help people navigate through the different POEM projects, and in which ways it could be a useful starting point for future research. The following day was scheduled to validate some of the tools for the toolbox. These are based on ideas about practical guides, workshop formats, games and activities that we have found might help the practical work in our respective fields. Testing our ideas with practitioners from the GLAM sector, NGOs and civil society, education, IT and creative industries, policy makers, experts in our fields and other interested people, we evaluated and developed some of the tools further. These will be part of the toolbox towards the end of the project and made available on the POEM website, where the first tools and services from fellows and partners can already be found. The programme finished with a fellows meeting; an important part of the programme during which the fellows take the time to share struggles as well as small victories. It served as a good reminder that we are all in this together.
Now, it is not long before the first fellows will hand in their thesis. Due to COVID-19, most of the fellows are taking a few extra months to complete their writing, some are finalising papers or working on the tools. This Knowledge Hub was an important step towards the finish line. A finishing line that for many of us – supervisors and fellows – will be marked by the final conference in Hamburg in March 2022. We look forward to it!
 The toolbox article is available here, and more on the model can be found here.