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My research intersects with digital cultural heritage, museum and archival studies, museum collections management and the internet, social media and meme cultures. I am interested in action-focused, collaborative and autoethnographic research methodologies and exploring the use of humour in academic form.
Throughout my PhD I collaborated with the Collecting Social Photo research project which sought to develop methods for collecting social media photography in museums and archives, and also led a strand of the project’s research on the use of AI in cataloguing. Other collaborations included an action research collecting project with the National Science and Media Museum where I worked with curators to collect a meme for the permanent collections.
I am a board member of ICOM UK (International Council of Museums, UK branch), and a member of the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage, Association of Critical Heritage Studies, Museums Association, Contemporary Collection Network and Meme Studies Research Network.
Before joining the University of Leeds I spent the best part of a decade working in the museum sector in a range of roles including the following:
- Collections Information and Systems Manager at the Victoria and Albert Museum
- Collections Curator at the Cardiff Story Museum
- Collections Manager at the Royal Mint Museum
- Documentation Officer at Blaenau Gwent County Council
Some preliminary research outcomes include:
- Kidd, J and Rees, A.J (2021 forthcoming) ‘A Museum of deepfakes? Potentials and pitfalls for deep learning technologies.’ In Stylianou-Lambert, T., Heraclidou, A., and Bounia, A. (eds.) Museum Media(ting): Emerging Technologies and Difficult Heritage.
- Rees, A.J (2021). Collecting Online Memetic Cultures: how tho. Museum and Society, 19(2), 199–219.
- Rees, A.J. (2020) ‘Image Recognition as a Tool in Cataloguing Born-Digital Photography’. In Uimonen, P. and Hartig, K. eds. Connect to Collect: Approaches to collection social digital photography in museums and archives.
- Rees, A.J. (2020) What does that meme? Collecting and curating memes in museums. In Chagas, V. ed. Estudos sobre Memes: história, política e novas experiências de letramento [Meme Studies: history, politics, and new literacies experiences]
- Memes should be archived in museums. BBC News
- Are memes worth preserving? ACMI Online
- Top tips for ethical digital collecting in Contemporary Collecting: an ethical toolkit for museum practitioners. London Transport Museum and Arts Council England
- What does it meme? When social media becomes part of the museum collection. Museum ID
My research interests include museums, digital collecting and collections management, social media and meme cultures, and theories of institutional change. I am interested in undertaking research using action research, autoethnography and exploring the role of humour in academic form. Other interests include:
- contemporary collecting practices in museums and archives
- popular culture
- internet studies and history
- operational practices and organisational structures
- ethical digital practices
- PhD Museum Studies
- MA Museum Studies
- BA History
Research groups and institutes
- Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage