Cybraries in paradise: new technologies and ethnographic repositories.

01 December 2006

Digital technologies are altering research practices surrounding creation and use of ethnographic field recordings, and the methodologies and paradigms of the disciplines centered around their interpretation. In this chapter we discuss some examples of our current research practices as fieldworkers in active engagement with cultural heritage communities documenting music and language in the Asia- Pacific region, and as developers and curators of the digital repository PARADISEC (the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures: ). We suggest a number of benefits that the use of digital technologies can bring to the recording of material from small and endangered cultures, and to its re-use by communities and researchers. We believe it is a matter of social justice as well as scientific interest that ethnographic recordings held in higher education institutions should be preserved and made accessible to future generations. We argue that, with appropriate planning and care by researchers, digitization of research recordings in audiovisual media can facilitate access by remote communities to records of their cultural heritage held in higher education institutions to a far greater extent than was possible in the analog age.