Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Representation of Non-Western Cultural Knowledge on Wikipedia: The Case of the Visual Arts

Version 1 : Received: 27 April 2021 / Approved: 29 April 2021 / Online: 29 April 2021 (09:16:07 CEST)

How to cite: Poulter, M.; Ahmed, W. Representation of Non-Western Cultural Knowledge on Wikipedia: The Case of the Visual Arts. Preprints 2021, 2021040770 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202104.0770.v1). Poulter, M.; Ahmed, W. Representation of Non-Western Cultural Knowledge on Wikipedia: The Case of the Visual Arts. Preprints 2021, 2021040770 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202104.0770.v1).

Abstract

We explore gaps in Wikipedia's coverage of the visual arts by comparing the representation of 100 artists and 100 artworks from the Western canon against corresponding sets of notable artists and artworks from non-Western cultures. We measure the coverage of these two sets of topics across Wikipedia as a whole and for its individual language versions. We also compare the coverage for Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata, sister-projects of Wikipedia that host digital media and structured data. We show that all these platforms strongly favour the Western canon, giving many times more coverage to Western art. We highlight specific examples of differing coverage of visual art inside and outside the Western canon. We find that European language versions of Wikipedia are generally more "Western" in their coverage and Asian languages more "global", with interesting exceptions. We suggest how both Wikipedia and the wider cultural sector can address this gap in content and thus give Wikipedia a truly global perspective on the visual arts.

Subject Areas

Wikipedia, knowledge equity, Wikimedia, open culture, visual arts, cultural bias

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