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CAS in the Media Arts and Sciences Media Headlines

Mukurtu: A Digital Platform That Does More Than Manage Content

In November 2018, French president Emmanuel Macron pledged to return 26 artifacts housed in French museums that had been taken from the African state of Benin during the early days of colonialism. More recently, Germany adopted a new policy to return items collected under circumstances that would be considered illegal by today’s standards and pledged 1.9 million euros of research funding to ascertain the origins of holdings in its cultural institutions. The British Museum, which has committed to lending out more of its holdings instead of returning them to the nations from which they were taken, faces criticism for failing to confront its role in the continuing damage of colonization.

Kimberly Christen.

Even as governments around the world begin to confront their colonial histories, the most visible conversations about Indigenous property rights have centered on the policies, anxieties, and opinions of non-Indigenous leaders. Kim Christen, the director of the Digital Technology and Culture Program at Washington State University, has developed a tool for Indigenous people to recast cultural materials within their own experiences and histories.

“I don’t want to tell a story about Mukurtu as a digital platform alone,” Christen says. “I want to tell a story about Mukurtu as a connector, as a relationship builder, as something that provides a stage for ethical conversations and ethical structures. Twenty years from now, Mukurtu might be gone, but these relationships that we put in place are still going to be there.”

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National Endowment for the Humanities

Mellon grant boosts digital stewardship of indigenous cultural materials

Washington State University researchers working to enable digital repatriation of Native American cultural heritage materials received a $700,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the next phase of an innovative, community-driven curation program.

Kimberly Christen.

Part of the unique Mukurtu CMS software initiative, Mukurtu Shared will allow the materials to be ethically and collaboratively curated in the online environment by indigenous communities using standardized, replicable workflows and freely available digital tools, said Kimberly Christen, professor and director of the Digital Technology and Culture Program in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and a principal investigator for the grant.

“Respecting indigenous values and knowledge, this method incorporates local Native American protocols for attribution, access, review, vetting and labeling of cultural heritage materials,” Christen said.

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WSU Insider


WSU Vancouver’s Electronic Literature Lab hosts two international scholars

Dene Grigar.

Two international scholars will collaborate with Electronic Literature Lab (ELL) director Dene Grigar, professor of digital media/tech & culture at WSU Vancouver, on such projects as live-streamed performances of born-digital narratives originally produced on floppy disks and CD-ROMs from 1988 – 2000, and an open-source multimedia book documenting early works of computer-based literature.

Founded by Grigar in 2012 at WSU Vancouver, ELL is among only a handful of media archaeology labs in the United States and is used for advanced inquiry into the curation, documentation, preservation and production of born-digital literary works and other media.

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Mirage News

WSU Insider


Douglas Gast 1974-2020

Douglas Gast.
Doug Gast

Douglas Paul Gast, 46, associate professor of fine arts and director of the Digital Technology & Culture degree program at WSU Tri-Cities, peacefully departed this life on Sunday, August 2, 2020 at his residence. Born July 1, 1974 in Bainbridge, Georgia, he was the son of Linda L. Macom and Michael F. Gast.

Doug received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, master’s in Communication Studies from Baylor University, and an MFA in Electronic Art from the University of Cincinnati. Since 2005, he has served Washington State University Tri-Cities and its students. He always extended a listening ear, words of encouragement and a helping hand to family, friends, and students.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made by mail to the Douglas P. Gast Scholarship and Travel Fund in Fine Arts and Digital Technology & Culture Endowment # 7246-0127, c/o Don Shearer, Associate Vice President, Washington State University Foundation, PO Box 643528, Pullman, WA 99164 or online at https:// (Type Gast in Search).

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WSU Vancouver’s creative media and digital culture students reimagine the Park Foundation

Students in the creative media and digital culture program at Washington State University Vancouver led and created an updated Parks Foundation website, logo and social media presence this spring while collaborating and learning remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new website is and features an illustrated interactive map of some of the Parks Foundation’s community grant projects and provides a space for the foundation to do storytelling and growth work. The comprehensive map of Clark County’s parks, trails and points of interest is a great planning tool for local exploration.

The students presented the final website, branding guide and revived social media platforms remotely amid Washington’s Stay Home Stay Safe campaign. The COVID-19 pandemic provided real-world experience as they needed to pivot and shift quickly with their teams.

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The Reflector