Archives are increasingly seen as mediums of social activism, shining a light on the hidden voices of communities suffering indifference and censorship. This panel presents archives that provide a platform for these discrete voices to emerge, and indicate why the archive remains a critical medium.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Interdisciplinary archival practices: An archive of creative observation.
This paper will describe the process of developing an urban archive, that exists as a tool for continued creative observation of the alleyways of District 4, HCMC, Vietnam. This archive is collaboratively developed between design academics and the Library at RMIT University Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is undergoing period of rapid redevelopment, both economically and environmentally. This modernisation is bringing about not only physical changes but also cultural changes. One of the unique urban spaces under threat from change are the hems (alleyways). This paper outlines the process collecting audio visual material for the purposes of developing an archive of creative observation of the hems, in collaboration with the RMIT University Vietnam library. This collaborative development is unique opportunity to demonstrate the archive as a creative tool. Critically this archive records the built environment as a physical embodiment of the cultural practices of the District 4 hem inhabitants.
There were three key processes that informed the development of the project. The first was the specialisations of the participating academics and how they negotiated their own discrete practices in the project. Second is the collaborative development of the archive with the RMIT University library team. Third, is the development of exhibitions within the archive as a tool to present the material under relevant themes. With over a thousand audio visual items, collected and archived, production of new material will continue.
The aim is to make the archive central to the process of creative observation and production (Spieker. 2008) and one that is in a continual process of change and development, as well as continued content expansion and enrichment. These processes are expected to continue into the future as the hems change and new avenues of creative observation emerge ensuring the archive represents the hems future.
An Ephemeral Archive of Displacement: Acholi Memories in the Diaspora
In the last 40 years many Acholi people in Sudan and North Uganda have been forced into internal displacement and refuge abroad. The press and many organizations have recorded biased, views of the situation. I call attention to the need for an emic record collected from the displaced Acholis.
The archive of the Acholi history of displacement is carried in the minds, albums and recordings of thousands of Acholi survivors of the protracted belligerency in Northern Uganda over the last 40 years. There is a need for archivists to identify, locate and capture those memories for posterity. This will be much like the work still being done with survivors of the European Holocaust. Ours is miniscule by comparison but nonetheless significant to the survivors and their descendants, who, with scanty resources, both intellectual and material, are suppressing memories or recording them without focus or cohesion.
Non-Acholi journalists, scientists and scholars have collected and presented a section of Acholi history from their outsiders' point of view. However detailed insiders' analyses are not evident in the recorded 'archive.' The Acholi content is mostly missing. Some of the archival materials seem bent towards propaganda, particularly regarding the military activities of Alice Lakwena's Holy Spirit Movement and Joseph Kony's Lord Resistance Army. In order to identify the depth of suppression, coding and disguise of the real record, I include, along with other materials, one song that was composed and performed to persuade rebel Acholis to accept oppression and keep quiet. Non-Acholis are unlikely to get the real meanings in the song; this paper is an attempt to unravel meanings often hidden in discreet communication. The unraveling of this kind of material should be archived toward a time when the Acholi side of the story can safely be heard.
Governmental Control and Archives: The Image of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the International Red Cross Museum's Poster Archive
Disaster and illness in the donated posters by Iran to the Red Cross Museum in Geneva as an international center is almost absence because the Iranian intelligence office has the task of filtering out anything that is believed to be used against the country and to ruin its face.
One of archives of The International Red Cross Museum is poster archive in which major incidents and developments of humanitarian activities worldwide have been documented. However donated posters by Iran to this archive are completely different from other countries' ones because its posters are more relevant to unimportant meetings of Red Crescent Organization. Also, unlike other countries' efforts for showing visually human suffering in their poster, in Iran's archive, an absence of disasters is obvious. It is completely unexpected from a country like Iran which has so high level of natural disasters, war and illnesses that the Red Crescent has always been involved in. Therefore, this question arises: Why Iranian posters after the Islamic Revolution which have been sent to Red Cross Museum's archive do not portray incidents and disasters while many posters on natural disasters, illnesses and so on are produced within Iran by current government? Finally, by using ethnographic approach, the paper concludes that the Iranian Red Crescent Organization as the posters donator, has followed main policy of Islamic republic, based on preventing "tarnishing the image of Iran" that makes the "enemy" happy. According to this political view, the enemy takes advantage of even natural disasters and illnesses to challenge the Iranian government and its ideology. Hence, the intelligence office in the organization has attempted to protect the Islamic government's image as an ideal system without any problem in the international archive by ignoring the posters which are closer to the reality.
Protecting Patrimony through Sacred Scholarship: Documenting Haitian Ritual Arts
I discuss how a digital archive documents and preserves the sacred Vodou arts of Haiti. I explore the consumption and deliberate use of Haitian Creole for exchange, challenges the biases inherent to more mainstream conversations about art/art in Haiti, and amplifies diverse Haitian voices.
The Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative (PHPI) is comprised of international contributors who came together to assist Haiti with the preservation of Haitian cultural patrimony following the devastating 2010 earthquake. As a project of PHPI, and in partnership with the State University of Haiti, the Digital Library of the Caribbean, and Galerie Monnin, among others, the FIU Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center's Haitian Art Digital Archive (HADA) contributes to ongoing efforts to help preserve Haitian cultural patrimony, highlight the work of Haiti's prominent cultural leaders, scholars and artists, and promote free and open access to discussions about the Arts in Haiti. My paper discusses Haitian art and the evolution of HADA as a unique, multi-functional platform to document, present and help preserve Haiti's artistic culture. More specifically, I examine how HADA, with a particular focus on the sacred arts of Haiti and through the deliberate use of Haitian Creole, provides an alternative forum for knowledge exchange, challenges the biases inherent to more mainstream conversations about art/art in Haiti, and amplifies diverse Haitian voices that are often underrepresented or entirely absent from academic scholarship produced outside of Haiti. I also discuss consumption and commodification of Haitian art and those who produce it, and how HADA aims to support multiple forms of valuation of sacred arts and artists in Haiti. Finally, I present how HADA, as a democratic model for international, interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange, has been leveraged to successfully attract public and private funding and support to ensure sustainability.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.