Making Meaning of Historical Papua New Guinea Recordings

Collaborations of Speaker Communities and the Archive




PARADISEC’s PNG collections represent the great diversity in the regions and languages of PNG. In 2016 and 2017, in recognition of the value of PARADISEC’s collections, ANDS (the Australian National Data Service) provided funding for us to concentrate efforts on enhancing the metadata that describes our Papua New Guinea (PNG) collections, an effort designed to maximise the findability and useability of the language and music recordings preserved in the archive for both source communities and researchers. PARADISEC's subsequent engagement with PNG language experts has led to collaborations with members of speaker communities who are part of the PNG diaspora in Australia. In this paper, we show that making historical recordings more findable, accessible and better described can result in meaningful interactions with and responses to the data in source communities. The effects of empowering speaker communities in their relationships to archives can be far reaching – even inverting, or disrupting the power relationships that have resulted from the colonial histories in which archives are embedded.





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