Video documenting for language, culture and resources
CTA. 2006. Video documenting for language, culture and resources. Rural Radio Resource Pack 06/1. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57394
Use of video and multimedia techniques to strengthen interest in language, culture and resource management in Indonesia and Canada.
Video documenting for language, culture and resources Cue: In the industrialized, urban parts of the world, information is everywhere; in books, newspapers, television, the internet, and of course on the radio. But in rural and traditional societies access to information is very different. Across the world, from Africa to Asia, even in North America, there are thousands of communities whose knowledge and language can never be read in a book, or seen in a TV programme, for the simple reason that the knowledge has never been documented. It only exists in the minds of the people ? perhaps handed down orally for each new generation ? from elders to the young. Documenting such knowledge can have many benefits. It can help to preserve language, and strengthen people?s knowledge and pride in their culture. And, by recording information about the resources they use, and where those resources are found, it can help communities to assert their traditional rights and even make more efficient use of those resources. But how to record, or document that knowledge? From 2000 to 2003, Canadian social scientist Jon Corbett worked with two traditional Indonesian communities on the island of Borneo, to test documentation methods. Part of the project involved community mapping to help communities record information about their land and resources. However, as Susanna Thorp found out, the documentation process was not simply limited to a two dimensional map. IN: ?I think really the most important? OUT: ? systems of land and resource management.? DUR?N 4?09? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Jon Corbett, on how the use of video has strengthened interest in language, culture and resource management in Indonesia and Canada. Transcript Corbett I think really the most important element of the project was the use of video, and video captured well a lot of the oral histories, which obviously don?t communicate well on paper. Thorp So how was that information documented? You gather all those videos and you write it down, but how is that then sort of gathered together and used? Corbett I think it?s interesting, it?s one of those things where initially we began with a planning process where people decided what information was important, information which really addressed their most pressing needs. And their needs at that time were really around issues of resource access, resource rights, illegal logging, boundaries between different communities, and so a lot of people in a community, but interestingly mostly the men, identified these as being the key areas of information which they wanted to gather. Interestingly as well, a lot of elders started to look at the more cultural, historical information, but again very focused on land and resources, and then we had a strong gender component as well, and I think fascinating the fact that the women just decided to do completely different information from the men. The men were very focused on boundaries and land and things which occurred around the extremities of the community, whereas the women started to collect information about their traditional dancing, their traditional songs and the histories of, well, not even the long histories, but recent histories of how they used to light the long house before electricity came to the community, how they used to bring water up into the long house, and all these very real stories about when they were young girls, you know the sort of things that used to happen. Thorp So a very rich process and one in which a lot of information is generated and it can be shared amongst the community and I think you said that younger members are learning an awful lot from their elders and it can help engender respect and appreciation for the culture which they have come from. So there?s an important aspect of sharing information within the community, but was that information shared or given to anybody else? Corbett It?s difficult to generalise because the two communities we worked in were very, very different. In one community essentially they made the information system available to anybody and as a result the information they gathered was of a quite generic nature, whereas in the other community they started to document a lot of, what they considered to be quite sensitive information and, as a result, they were extremely protective about who would access that information. There was an instance in fact where some people came into the community and they really liked this one particular video and they said that they would like a copy, to which the villages said ?No, look, I?m sorry, we can?t give you a copy of this information until we have had a community meeting and we have all decided by consensus in the community that we would give you a copy of that.? So they were aware of those issues around intellectual property. Thorp What?s happened after you?ve finished your research project with those communities? Corbett Well, we returned almost a year after we had officially finished the project. In one community they were still using the computer equipment but they weren?t using it for the information system. Whereas in the other community they were still collecting information, and they had worked out a way where they could actually make money using this equipment by documenting a lot of events which were taking place in the district, and then they would produce video compact discs or VCDs and then they would sell them, and so it became really a self-generating project. Thorp So, what about you, as a researcher, what have you taken away from that project, and how are you using that information now? Corbett Well, we?ve taken some of the processes and some of the tools that we used in Indonesia and we are now working with First Nations communities on Vancouver Island in Canada looking at ways where we can combine information about ancient practices of resource management with language, because their language is really at a critical junction where there?s a lot of languages which are simply beginning to die out. So we are working a lot with elders, training up community youth to use these tools and we are generating interactive DVDs or digital video discs which we are hoping will help both revitalise language as well as enable youth to become more interested about their traditional systems of land and resource management. End of track.