Anna Dahlgren och Karin Hansson
Anna Dahlgren and Karin Hansson.

The design and use of metadata are always culturally and ideologically inflicted. Accordingly, the practice and policy of tagging images in cultural heritage institutions are not only fundamental for our understanding of the past but vital in navigating the present. Especially when it comes to big data and data-driven research, we have to pay particular attention to the consequences of the interfaces that curate our common history. We are living in a metadata culture, where tagging data has become an important literacy. Metadata and the archiving practices that produce it are increasingly important for cultural heritage institutions, and for contemporary culture at large, as a mean to navigate the rapidly growing volume of data situating them historically, socially and, not least, locally.

Crowdsourcing, social media platforms for community engagement, linked open data, and other participatory and open science practices, create new challenges to for archiving institutions due to the character of the networked publics involved and the established structures between and within institutions, but also new opportunities and practices when it comes to understanding and defining our shared culture. 

In this research group we are looking at these different “metadata cultures” from an interdisciplinary perspective, focusing on the visual heritage. Methodologically we are also developing our sharing processes aiming for a more inclusive research culture inspired by participatory design practices.


The Politics of Metadata (2019-2023)

The aim of this five-year project is to critically examine the policies and practices of tagging images in cultural heritage institutions’ image collections online through a cross-disciplinary approach, to contribute to the development of sustainable image-archiving eco-systems which simultaneously meet the demands of high usability, professionalism, and diversity and participation.

Sharing the Visual Heritage. Metadata, reuse and interdisciplinary research (2019-2023)

The purpose of this five-year project is to support the production of elaborated metadata for our visual heritage and to strengthen open and interdisciplinary research infrastructures within academia and between academia and the cultural heritage sector. The aim is first to investigate and develop methods for obtaining qualified and extensive metadata for images in digitalized cultural heritage collections. Second the project sets out to outline participatory methodologies for open and linked metadata practices in an interdisciplinary research community.


These interdisciplinary projects are performed by Anna Dahlgren, professor in Art History, Karin Hansson, docent in Computer and Systems Sciences, a PhD student in Digital Humanities (TBA) and archive experts from cultural heritage institutions in Sweden.

Supporting institutions

The research is hosted by the Department of Culture and Aesthetics in collaboration with the Department of Systems Sciences (DSV) at Stockholm University, and financed by The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet).

More information

For further information about the projects, please visit the website

Anna Dahlgren's research

Karin Hansson's research