PAPER SESSION 1 – TUESDAY 24/8, 9–11am (UTC +8)
P1.2 – Oral History and Archives
Yang Qiumeng (China) Oral History on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage: Case Study on Intangible Cultural Heritage Bearers Documenting Project of China
The purpose of this paper is to introduce the methodology and application of oral history in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (hereinafter referred to as ICH). According to the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, documentation and preservation are the significant measures at ensuring the viability of the intangible cultural heritage (hereinafter referred to as ICH). From 2015, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Bearers Documenting Project was launched national wide in China. It is believed that the object of ICH preservation is the knowledge, memory, technique, creativity, cultural relationship/function of those bearers. Therefore, the best way to document the memory of bearers is combining the oral history interviews with visual anthropology documenting methods. After recording more than 1,300 up national-level representative bearers, the oral history methods primely enriched the original documents and literature resources, broadly expands the research field of ICH preservation, and successfully brings the ICH elements to the general public. Although some problems such as discrepant operation standard, unspecialized interviewers, insufficient access and promotion are found in the practices, there is no denying that the interdisciplinary collaboration of oral history and ICH has brought immeasurable benefits in safeguarding ICH, and has a positive effect on the development of oral history in China.
Yang Qiumeng, Master of Social Science, graduated from Hong Kong Baptist University in 2013. Since 2014, she has been working at China Memory Project Center, National Library of China. She was involved in ICH Bearers Documenting Project for six years. Her fields of interests comprise oral history, visual anthropology, and ICH Documenting. She may be contacted at email@example.com.
Keywords: documentation; intangible cultural heritage; oral history; safeguarding
Lorna Chisholm (Canada) Collaborative Approaches to Preserving Oral Histories in Canada’s Private Archives</ul>
Oral expressions help pass on culture and social values and play a “crucial part in keeping cultures alive.” (UNESCO, 2017). For Indigenous communities, recordings of their oral expressions can represent centuries of knowledge passed on through generations and woven into Indigenous cultures (Trimble et al., 2008). Archives acquire and preserve Indigenous oral histories, but while doing so can increase access to the material, it can also be seen as perpetuating colonial practices of knowledge organization. (Canadian Federation of Library Associations, 2017)
As a national memory institution, Library and Archives Canada is the custodian of Canada’s history, including material from First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation cultures. We also have an oral history tradition of interviewing archivists and donors to add contextual information to our material. From these experiences, we are developing new approaches to working with Indigenous oral histories –approaches based on openness and collaboration – that challenge us to question and decolonize our institutional practices and assumptions.
This session will describe Library and Archives Canada’s donor oral history activities, before presenting our Indigenous oral histories initiative, Listen, Hear Our Voices, an initiative that supports the preservation of Indigenous culture and language recordings across Canada. The program was designed with feedback from an Indigenous Advisory Circle and is supported by seven Indigenous archivists working in traditional territories across Canada. Listen, Hear Our Voices does not acquire material but rather recognizes the need for Indigenous communities to control their collections. The program can serve as a case study for other memory institutions to show how being guided by Indigenous knowledge and perspectives can help us better support the preservation of Indigenous oral history recordings.
Lorna Chisholm is the lead archivist for the Listen, Hear Our Voices initiative at Library and Archives Canada. Prior to her current position, she was an archivist responsible for literary records in the private archives branch. She has a Master of Arts in Public History from Carleton University, Canada.
Keywords: archiving; indigenous; preservation
Imogen Smith, Sasha Mackay & Helen Klaebe (Australia) The Digital Story Bank: Archiving, Organising, and Accessing Oral Histories
Communities and organisations, whether corporate, community-centred or volunteer-driven, hold rich histories and often keep important collections, yet the recording and archiving of this history and historical ephemera can be overlooked. When archiving is carried out, the stories of communities may be removed from their context and transferred to a central location. This raises ethical considerations about supporting communities’ ownership of the stories they have created. This article demonstrates how a new tool – the ‘Digital Story Bank’ – allows communities and organisations to manage and archive their own stories and historical material. This article subsequently proposes that by making use of the tool, communities’ and organisations’ ability to manage their own history could open up further potential to allow stories to remain in the places they were made – where they are most meaningful. This presentation discusses how the Digital Story Bank, created by researchers at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), was designed and piloted, and explores the potential for the tool to support place-based narratives, particularly in remote communities where issues of place and story are particularly powerful.
Dr Sasha Mackay’s research explores the practices and impacts of self-representational storytelling and participatory arts for under-served communities. Currently, Sasha is the Research Project Manager of the Australian Research Council Linkage Project ‘The Role of the Creative Arts in Regional Australia: A Social Impact Model’ (LP180100477) led by Queensland University of Technology.
Professor Helen Klaebe has for two decades led research in participatory public history and social engagement using multi art form storytelling strategies to engage communities. Currently, Helen is Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council Linkage Project ‘The Role of the Creative Arts in Regional Australia: A Social Impact Model’ (LP180100477).
Keywords: archiving; community history; digital storytelling; organisational history; placemaking
Zou Kunyi (Thailand) Oral History, Liu Kang, and the Making of Nanyang Art History in Singapore
While in other countries oral histories are usually employed to balance state power and are initiated by non-governmental organizations, oral history in Singapore originates from and is strongly supported by its government, and is an indispensable part of Singapore’s history. As a rather new nation comprised of various ethnicities, including Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian, nation building is always at the centre of concern for the state. The use and archiving of Singapore’s Oral History Project thus plays a significant role in its nation building process, particularly in the construction of its national art history.
Navigating through oral records of a specific group of Chinese Singaporeans termed “pioneer Nanyang/Singapore artists,” this article reveals a brief history of the Oral History Project and related institutions in Singapore, its political implications, and connection to national building, specifically in the case of the interview with Liu Kang, a renowned pioneer Nanyang artist. The classification of oral records in influences the way researchers use them, particularly with regard to Nanyang artists. Furthermore, the changing classification of Nanyang artists’ oral history materials, particularly those of Liu Kang, clearly intertwine with Singapore’s changing direction, focusing more on art and culture in creating a national identity.
Zou Kunyi is currently a lecturer at Department of History, Chiang Mai University, Thailand. She received her PhD in History from National University of Singapore in the year 2017. Her present research interests lie in the history of Chinese overseas in Singapore and Thailand, and history of veterinary.
Keywords: Liu Kang; Nanyang artists; Singapore nation building; Singapore oral history project