Years of resource extraction by multinational corporations have transformed the Purari Delta into a resource frontier where communities’ desires, subjectivities and histories are being unevenly reconfigured. Focusing on the struggles of I'ai communities for recognition by the Papua New Guinean government as traditional resource owners, I examine how, in the wake of the destruction of regional archives and the perceived inaccessibility of PNG's National Archives, men are marshalling new assemblages of evidence: written ancestral histories, heirloom objects, found images and maps. I explore how I'ai men are strategically deploying these materials to actualise their utopian dreams of recognition.
Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge Workshop Report
Joshua A. Bell, Kimberly Christen, and Mark Turin
On 19 January 2012, the workshop After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge was held at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. With support from the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian’s Understanding the American Experience and Valuing World Cultures Consortia, this workshop brought together twenty-eight international participants for a debate around what happens to digital materials after they are returned to communities (however such communities are conceived, bounded, and lived). The workshop provided a unique opportunity for a critical debate about the very idea of digital return in all of its problematic manifestations, from the linguistic to the legal, as indigenous communities, archives, libraries, and museums work through the terrain of digital collaboration, return, and sharing. What follows is a report on the workshop’s presentations and discussions.