About the project

The project takes the Indian festival Durgāpūjā as a thematic starting point to discuss and begin to test the development of educational digital tools to enhance participatory experiences for visitors in the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) spaces. Namely, we aim at discussing, preparing and practically trying out options to develop educational digital interactive platform such as small video games (e.g. in the form of mobile apps) which take up museum exponents in order to educate and enhance participatory experiences – related to Durgāpūjā and beyond. Our collaboration partners provide their expertise in the relevant fields for this interdisciplinary and explanatory project; they include collaborators with academic expertise in India, museum studies, digital humanities, religious studies and game studies and actors from the fields of museums and galleries, game development and other business sectors.

Durgāpūjā is one of or possibly the one most popular and widespread festival in India, and today is celebrated by Indian communities around the entire globe – including Helsinki. The nine day and night long festival is continuously transforming, and especially since the second half of the twentieth century is highly influenced by global meta-processes such as economization, globalization, and mediatization. The festival has religious roots, but of course has many social aspects, as well. It is mainly (though not exclusively) an important venue to negotiate identity and community related issues. Because of the diversity of aspects and levels surrounding Durgāpūjā (e.g. social, cultural, artistic, historical, religious) the festival provides a next to perfect thematic focus and is a paradigm to expound on Indian culture in its cultural and social diversity.

This project will provide several outcomes: It will be intertwined with teachings at the Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, and include an exhibition, a workshop aimed at primarily students and an academic conference “Video Games and Museums: Educational Digital Tools for the Participatory GLAM Space” on 6-7 May 2018 (all in Helsinki). We aim at possibly delivering a first prototype for a small video game on Durgāpūjā, as example for an educational digital interactive tool.

The project is funded by the University of Helsinki Future Development Fund. It is a collaboration at Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, between the two major project partners Prof. Dr. Xenia Zeiler (South Asian Studies) and Prof. Dr. Suzie Thomas (Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies). It involves students and international project partners from academia, the GLAM space, and industry.