Community Archiving in the Digital Context
The availability of digital and media technologies has facilitated several new small-scale archiving initiatives that aim to document and preserve performance arts within their own communities. Often, these initiatives emerge from notions about the significance of cultural forms, and the perceived necessity to preserve them in face of the onslaught of popular and mass media. This paper draws upon ethnographic work with such initiatives in parts of India to address questions such as: Who are the stakeholders in such initiatives? What are the considerations for preservation, organization, and access? Given the varied range of formats for documentation, what kinds of standard practices develop in these settings? Who are users envisioned for such archives, and how is archival content made available to them? Further, through the study, I explore notions of shared cultural property vs. intellectual property, as well as the emergence of a global cultural commons constituted through the deployment of digital and media technologies.