Archives and the Digital Humanities
Moderator Dr. Dibyadyuti Roy of IIT-Jodhpur opened panel discussion on questions pertaining to archive's pedagogical properties, ethological roots, and the dynamics between archivist and digital humanist. The pedagogues came from different professional backgrounds, adding variety to the discussion. Rishi Sighal and Amarnath Praful from NID use dissertations as pedagogical tool in the Photography Design Programme. Students there also involve in digitizing institute's collection to find connection between vernacular photography and India's colonial past. Two teachers from IIT-Jodhpur brought their experiences to the table from film studies and literary perspectives respectively. Issues like catering to the needs of heterogeneous classrooms, mutability of archives, politics of access and navigation, the problematic relationship between cinema, nation state, and the digital emerged through Dr. Parichay Patra's talk.
Dr. Natasha Thoudam pondered over questions of insider-outsider dynamics, politics of segregation and stereotyping the NE, and how the digital space can negotiate these problem spaces. Ishita Shah, an independent researcher & practitioner, narrated some of her pedagogical explorations across places, people, and practices, citing examples of Hampi, Kishkinda Trust project etc. as efforts at collaborative learning practices,including the ongoing COVID Care archives.
Dr. Ghosh, IIT-Delhi, explained the transition from oral to manuscript to documentary to digital cultures, and how performative art has the power to negotiate the silence, or ephemerality of the documentary left, possibly perpetuated by the digital archives. Last speaker Dr. Mukherjee of CS3-Kolkata, commented on the disruptive nature of Postcolonial DH, citing his Scottish Cemetery project which helped unearth oral/ micro- histories otherwise undocumented.
Q&A dealt with questions on copyright issues, the subaltern's resistance towards archiving in the context of pedagogy and politics, issue of disappearance and suffering in the backdrop of the raging pandemic, exploration of the absence in archival spaces. Moderator questioned the process of teaching results of colonial violence resulting in problem of authenticity and prominence. Session concluded with the question on what to look for in an archive, main or paratexts and why?
- Rishi Singhal https://www.nid.edu/people/detail/rishi-singhal
- Amarnath Praful https://www.nid.edu/people/detail/amarnath-praful
- Parichay Patra https://iitj.irins.org/profile/94316
- Natasa Thoudam https://iitj.irins.org/profile/203230
- Arjun Ghosh https://hss.iitd.ac.in/faculty/arjun-ghosh
- Souvik Mukherjee https://cssscal.org/faculty_souvik.php
- National Institute of Design Instagram handle https://www.instagram.com/archives_nid
- Resilience, Resistance, Renovation, and Rebirth (4R) Virtual Conference that happened on May 22 and 23, 2021 https://nau.edu/cher/resilience-resistance-renovation-and-rebirth-virtual-conference-recordings
- Video of students discussing the project https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uii1p2dx0EU
- Risam, R. (2019). “New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy”.
Learning Through Archives
Tanishkа Kachru, faculty member of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, moderator of the session invited students from various institutions to reflect on their take on encountering archives, experiential learning, while showcasing their archival projects. Subhradeep Chatterjee is the founder /curator of the Ephemeriad Project, an online museum of ephemeral objects, preserved for posterity that can even be easily accessed by the visually challenged and also a content repository for researchers. Pavithra Ramanujam, graphic designer & photographer, NID, took us on a photo-retrospective of weddings in Tamil Nadu from the 70’s and the 80’s (from her father’s personal collection) through project named 3 knots and lots of turmeric.
Titas Bose, Ph.D. student in University of Chicago, spoke about The Delek Archives, that archives instances of identity and religion-based discrimination in schools by mapping policies, surveys, curriculum evaluation and self-reflections, with a goal to provide vision for justice, equity and inclusivity in school education. ‘In the same river’, a project by Siva Sai Jeevanantham of NID, collaborated with Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, Kashmir, is an archive of family photographs and investigation documents related to the victims of enforced disappearances, trying to understand the ways in which remembering becomes resistance.
Ananya Pujary, Khushi Gupta, and Muskaan Pal, FLAME University,took us on a culinary expedition through their ‘Indian Community Cookbook Project’, an open-access archive of community cookbooks from across India containing digitized multilingual, region-specific community cookbooks, featuring handwritten and printed recipes. Eeshita Kapadiya is a designer, who talked about documenting, archiving and curating community oral histories for the purpose of creating a Police History Museum and Heritage center in Bidar, Karnataka. The Presidency Plaques Project is a digital storytelling, mapping and archiving of the monuments within Presidency University as embodiments of collective memory, spearheaded by Sohini Sengupta and Sourav Chattopadhyay. The Q&A session shed light on the ethical dilemma that the students face in the process of learning through the archive.
- The Ephemeriad Project https://www.ephemeriad.com/
- Social media www.facebook.com/ephemeriadproject www.instagram.com/ephemeriadproject
- Short Overview Video of The Ephemeriad Project in case it was not clearly visible during the presentation https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MPNKf0etWZcVDyrh8uyKnDmyTnM53SyI/view?usp=sharing
- Ephemera in Archives: What to Do? 1987 version. Michael K. Organ, University of New South Wales https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1602&context=asdpapers
- A complementary project, perhaps, is the STARS Tamil studio photography archive https://www.ifpindia.org/projects/studies-in-tamil-studio-archives-and-society-stars/
- In the Same River https://angkor-photo.com/apf-programme/in-the-same-river/
- Ananya, Muskaan, Khushi : Community Cookbook https://communitycookbooks.wixsite.com/website
- Email: email@example.com
- Social Media Handles Twitter: @CookbooksIndian https://www.facebook.com/TheICCP https://www.instagram.com/indiancommunitycookbooks/
- Archiving Oral Histories in Bidar https://www.sahapedia.org/the-dalapathi-tradition-of-bidar-karnataka
- Plaques of Presidency https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/17be1086add14c8792d44eaf7b395ae3
- Published by: Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) https://jkccs.net/report-kashmirs-internet-siege/index.html
Covid-19 Pandemic in India: Let’s Create an Archive That Cares
How will we remember the pandemic in India in the future? Can archives play a role in healing?
As the second wave of the pandemic unfolded across India, we found ourselves grappling with difficult questions on how we as cultural practitioners can contribute to alleviate ongoing crises. We wanted to create a safe space where anybody could share their everyday experiences and emotions of living through these unprecedented times. The idea was to build a public archive of the pandemic in India, not limited by form, language or geography. This project began by circulating an appeal for contributions which was also translated in Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Bengali, Marathi and Urdu.
We invited interested individuals to take part in the first workshop series of four sessions to collectively explore issues around archiving the pandemic. Our first session on the 6th of June was led by photographer and bookmaker Dayanita Singh who urged us to think through questions on intention and sustainability of efforts to archive the pandemic through exercises using newspaper clippings. For our second workshop, we invited Dr. Rebecca Adelman from the University of Maryland who drew from her experiences of the Coronavirus Lost and Found project to share practical insights on how to build such an archive. As these sessions progressed, participants worked through exercises to document their own experiences as well as that of others. Our third session saw two oral historians - Avanthika Seth and Ben Gillespie from the Smithsonian Institute of Art engage in a dialogue on how to record stories with grief and trauma with care and consideration. For the final workshop, Banshanglang Marwein shared his experiences working for Khalam project by the North-East audio-visual archive where he documented life under the pandemic in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.
Our weeklong interactions were concluded with a public interface held in collaboration with the Milli consortium’s International Archives Week 2021. The interface was driven by the participants themselves and was structured to communicate the happenings of the workshop to a broad audience. Each participant presented their reflections on engaging with the workshops and the process of extending their creative or academic practices towards archiving the pandemic. They raised crucial questions on boundaries between the experiences of self vs the other, and the challenges that one must navigate in archiving narratives. Following the presentation, a discussion between audience members and participants was moderated where questions on temporality and accessibility while building such an archive were raised.
The pandemic seems far from over in India and we continue witnessing its effects each day. We see efforts to build an archive of the pandemic as needing to respond to it’s everyday lived realities. We envision the first workshop series as laying the foundation for long-term efforts to construct a digital, public archive of people’s experiences during the pandemic in India. The appeal for contributions to the archive will remain open - until we all heal.
- Archiving oneself/the quotidian is such a difficult existential act. Reminded of Bergson’s concepts of time https://philosophynow.org/issues/48/Henri_Bergson_and_the_Perception_of_Time
- Project The End https://www.instagram.com/p/COQuIvPn-8p/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
- A book that comes to mind when we think of disaster, archive and articulating it https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/nebraska-paperback/9780803261204/
- “Numbers will not save us: Agonistic data practices” https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01972243.2021.1920081
- Works by Namita Kalve
- Recording of the thoughts in time, unedited by Lavanya https://youtu.be/kFlMHqZAzz4
- Rama Lakshmi on Bhopal Gas Tragedy https://accessibilityinmuseums.wordpress.com/tag/interview-with-rama-lakshmi/
- Editorial Requests from Better India https://www.instagram.com/p/CPXlV8ejO76/
- Detail to Detail account by Farah Naqvi https://thewire.in/health/saeed-naqvi-delhi-second-covid-19-wave-oxygen-cylinder