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Question: Can you describe the case study of the Effigy, rambaramp, in "museum object lessons in the digital age" by Geismar?
In "Museum Object Lessons in the Digital Age" by Haidy Geismar, a case study of the Effigy, Rambaramp (also known as Earthquake Spirit Mask), serves to explore how digitization and the online presence of museum collections challenge conventional modes of object display and reshapes the understanding of culture and history, as well as the relationships between artifacts, collectors, museums, and source communities. The Effigy, Rambaramp, is a sacred wooden sculpture originating from the island of Vanuatu in the Pacific, and represents an ancestral Earthquake Spirit of the region. The sculpture has been part of the British Museum's collection since 1929. Geismar's case study argues that digitization and distribution of the Effigy, Rambaramp, on digital platforms have significantly changed the way it is perceived, accessed, and related to by various stakeholders, raising questions about the role of museums and their responsibility in managing cultural heritage. The digital image of the Effigy, Rambaramp, serves as a powerful illustration in this discussion, due to the following aspects: 1. The Object Itself: Rambaramp represents a powerful and sacred embodiment of spiritual beliefs and ancestral connections, which differs from the typical aesthetic value assigned to art objects in Western museums. This poses questions about how museums should engage with cultural items that carry more than just aesthetic value. 2. Provenance and Ownership: The complicated history of collecting and ownership of the object raises questions about the rights and entitlements of various stakeholders, from the source community to the museum to the global audiences who now have access to it through digital means. 3. Digital Dissemination: Digital mediation of the object has extended its reach, allowing wider audiences across the globe to engage with it. Online viewers can look at Rambaramp from different angles, enlarging or manipulating the image, thus challenging the traditional authority of the museum as the sole interpreter. People from Vanuatu can also have virtual access to their cultural heritage. 4. Repatriation and Engagement: The online presence of Rambaramp has led to discussions about the repatriation of the artifact and what it means for both the source community and the museum. This has opened up dialogues between the museum, the Vanuatu Cultural Center, and the material's source communities, enabling a more collaborative approach to the interpretation and understanding of Rambaramp. The case study of the Effigy, Rambaramp demonstrates the complexities and potential of digital platforms in reshaping museum practices, encouraging more inclusive and multi-perspective narratives, and fostering greater collaboration between museums and source communities.
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