Design for Access
The first session of the Milli Archive’s Day 3 started with a discussion around enabling Access to Archives. Dr. Claire Wintle, from University of Brighton opened the session, along with the host Farah Yameen. The panelists included Sue Breakall, Suchitra Chatterjee, Jen Grasso and Monna Matharu. All the panelists are/were members of University of Brighton and had worked with Dr. Wintle. Their intention was to talk about their experiences as researchers and archivists with the limitation they faced with access to different archives and the innovative measures they adopted to approach archives.
Sue Breakall started the conversation by showcasing the different rules directing different archives. As she noted a University archive is designed for students while a Business Archive is simply to store data and less open for access. In contrast, museum archives such as Tate often promote open access through exhibitions. In times of Covid, exhibitions presented on social media platforms have also helped open access. Through her experience as a university archivist she noted that every archivist carries the twin responsibility of preserving and providing access to archives. Certainly, as Derrida had alluded, power dynamics played a role in giving access.
Her thoughts were mirrored by Jen Grasso who recalled her experience with Photowalks, a company that wished to catalogue its photographs and business records. However, she lamented that the archive was relegated to the storage unit and interested parties like artists could not access it. Monna Matharu talked about a similar situation where archives detailing immigrant’s experience stored in Tower Hamilton had to be redacted, due to data protection laws. Suchi Chatterjee celebrated the digitization of archives which eliminates racism and disability based limitations. Digitization has accelerated due to Covid and promoted wider access to many archives.
- Introduction by day lead
- Introduction by moderator
- Sue Breakell (University of Brighton)
- Jen Grasso (University of Brighton)
- Monna Matharu (University of Brighton)
- Suchi Chatterjee (University of Brighton)
- Role of Covid on access.
- On language and literacy.
- On division of resources between the digital and physical.
- Closing remarks.
- Claire Wintle https://research.brighton.ac.uk/en/persons/claire-wintle
- Sue Breakell
- Jen Grasso
- Monna Matharu
- Backyard project https://backyardproject.org/
- Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/leisure_and_culture/local_history/local_history__archives/local_history__archives.aspx
- Suchi Chatterjee
- Stevens, Keith. “British Chinese Labour Corps Labourers Buried in England.” Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 29 (1989): 390. Accessed June 9, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23890825
Information Governance and International Law
In the second session, Dr. Elizabeth Lomas walked us through the international laws governing digital archives. She starts the discussion with historical antecedents, with archives emerging first with the idea of national identity in France and Netherlands in the 18th century. Archives moved towards preserving government and private record holdings. Factors such as budgeting influence institutional archives. The New Zealand Act was a pivotal moment which enacted retaining oral testimonial. Every nation, every institution and every social media has different rules and laws.
During the pandemic, a systemic increase in digitization of archives occurred. Data became the new oil. Lomas spoke of the increased interest protection laws and evidence in digital archives during the pandemic. For instance, in Europe, there’s a lot of focus on digital rights on environmental information. This focus revealed the need for access, remedies, accountability, and the environment. There’s a widespread push for open access. She highlighted caveats such as gaining meaningful consent while storing community archives. She also noted the strict restrictions to transfer holdings and software.
Even in India, comparable laws exist. Often clauses are added in India to help transfer data across continents. Lomas also stressed on revisiting the Digital Protection Act to reinforce protecting personal data. She also spoke about increasing funding flow. In the Q & A session that followed, led by Shuba Chaudhuri, discussants noted new strands to be considered while digitization, such as the need to preserve the right to forget, the need to preserve memory, the need to hold governing bodies accountable and the need to prioritize ethics acquisition.
- Introduction by moderator
- Elizabeth Lomas (University College London) Shubha Chaudhuri (Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology, American Institute of Indian Studies)
- On laws for archives.
- How is material selected for the archives and how is access built-in into the structure of the archive?
- On privacy by design to access by design.
- Hosting of archives and question of jurisdiction.
- On declassification and fare use of archival material.
- On creative commons
- AIIS Archives and Resource Centre for Ethnomusicology https://www.indiastudies.org/ethnomusicology/
- Elizabeth Lomas
- General Data Protection (GDPR) https://gdpr-info.eu
- What is a community archive https://blogs.lib.unc.edu/shc/2018/09/24/what-is-a-community-archive/
- Care Leavers Association https://www.careleavers.com/
- MIRRA film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs28tczL3yA
- BASW – Recording in Children’s Social Work Guide https://www.basw.co.uk/resources/recording-children%E2%80%99s-social-work-guide
- Guidance Site – Family Action https://www.familyconnect.org.uk/
- Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies https://aiatsis.gov.au/
- An excellent book on Data and ethical praxis https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/data-feminism
- A good (artist) project dealing with community held archives, or the lack thereof, id Amar Kanwar’s project called The Sovereign Forest https://www.sternberg-press.com/product/the-sovereign-forest/
Archives, Access and the Law: Ethics, Morals and Laws in Archives
In the last session of the day, panelists Divij Joshi and Anubha Sinha conversed about laws and norms governing digital archives in India. Divij Joshi noted that the field of archival law is not well-defined and unclear. It contains specific kinds of media, artistic expression, property ownership, and is shaped by laws around moveable properties and transactions about intaligable properties. Law is instrumental in shaping archives (access, acquisition, record is defined, what is archived, who controls access).
Divij Joshi traced the colonial legacy of archives, and notes that the archival institution was shaped by considerations of what could be archived and what could be disseminated (especially records). These questions were raised in the context of indigenous community. Archives are perceived with the lens of what is deemed to be of importance to the government. Landmark moments like the Tarachand committee of 1960 shaped how archives were regulated and influenced what kind of regulatory scrutiny the archive deserved. He further expanded on rules around property, individual ownership, property law, community ownership and copyright laws.
On the other hand, Anubha Sinha through her experience on drafting policies to serve as guidelines for the archiving process, talked about opening up scientific works and emphasis on privacy laws during archival research. She explained the complexity of copyright, especially while preserving audio-visual records. She noted it’s difficult to find ownership for such records. Rules for evaluating would change according to the work in hand. Rules could be different based on whether records were government/individual ownership, stages of how to acquire permissions, stipulation and other concerns. She lamented that under Indian Copyright Law: archives are not defined. Largely,Archives and museums exist in the margins. She asserted that there are no legally defined institutions of ‘archive’ under copyright law, unlike ‘public library’ or museum, which are provided particular leeways within the law.
During the discussion that followed, attendees resonated with the need to steer archives towards collaborative and open access. Attendee Carl Malmud quoted Gandhi and stated that archives need to have trusteeship instead of ownership. Too often, institutions with large collections of materials feel their job is to be the owner of knowledge. Gandhi taught that any property (including so-called “intellectual” property) must be held in trust for the people. The discussants ended the conversion by reasserting the importance of equitable access and data sovereignty.
- Introduction by moderator
- Divij Joshi (Centre for Policy Research)
- Anubha Sinha (Centre for Internet and Society)
- Article on stewardship and ethics of care in digital archives https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/710062
- An archival copy of the Ministry of Culture site https://archive.org/details/digitallibraryindia?&and=subject%3A%22MinistryOfCulture%22
- The NVLI project has been on a massive digitization spree where informing copyright of the content being digitized is very difficult. A bulk of their work can be accessed here https://indianculture.gov.in/
- E. Lomas: Just in regard to archival definitions Under Data Protection Law, across the EU countries did need to define archives in order to apply the exemption to the right to be forgotten. So the idea of ‘archiving in the public interest was developed’ and then guidance produced on how to interpret this. It was applied to community archive endeavours but care was taken that it could not be misused just to keep data and avoid appropriate rights to be forgotten. This is the link to the UK guidance https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/information-management/guide-to-archiving-personal-data.pdf
- Copyright Act 1947 https://copyright.gov.in/Documents/CopyrightRules1957.pdf
- Sales of Good Act, 1930 https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1930-3_0.pdf
- Right to Information Act https://rti.gov.in
- Report of the committee on archival legislation https://indianculture.gov.in/report-committee-archival-legislation-december-1960
- Public Records Act 1993 http://nationalarchives.nic.in/content/public-records-act-1993-0
- Joel Wurl’s article on stewardship https://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/45926