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Archives and Community Memory in the Pacific

Alefaio, Opeta and Halter, Nicholas (2023) Archives and Community Memory in the Pacific. In: The Cambridge History of the Pacific Ocean. Cambridge University Press, London, pp. 167-190. ISBN 9781108226875

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Dynamic and proactive archives are crucial for safeguarding and growing community memory and knowledge. Despite this, South Pacific Island archives are plagued by stark challenges which hinder their role. Principally, it is an issue of trust. The echoes and expectations of a not-too distant colonial past have isolated archives from the communities they are supposed to serve. This is made worse by traditional archival practice, which has a narrow focus, and with characteristics and requirements that prevent Pacific archives from connecting with their communities. These dated archive practices concentrate on ‘control’ of archival holdings with less consideration for the ‘accessibility’ of these holdings to the general public. This is driven by assumptions that may be relevant in Europe and societies where the written record has a long history, but which do not fit the realities of the island nations of the South Pacific and other countries that are former colonies, where oral tradition has a more dominant role. Using the developments at the National Archives of Fiji from 2012 to 2019 as a case study, this chapter will examine the challenges to Pacific Island archives, reveal how acknowledging cultural norms is key for Pacific archives to build trust and establish relevance in the community, and demonstrate how connecting with community is critical to overcoming the obstacles which prevent archives from serving their communities as desired.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DU Oceania (South Seas)
Divisions: School of Law and Social Sciences (SoLaSS)
Depositing User: Nicholas Halter
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2023 03:00
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2023 03:00

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