Scholarly Research and Publication - The EVIA Digital Archive Project

Scholarly Research and Publication

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Trumpeters and lion dancers commemorate the opening of a culture and ecology park near the city of Leye, western Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, 2003. Image © Jessica Anderson Turner.

The EVIA Project was initially driven by a realization that a large amount of research video had not been deposited in institutional archives and was instead stored in personal collections in improper conditions with little or no access to anyone besides the scholar who made the recordings. In some cases where formats had become functionally obsolete, even the scholar was unable to view their own recordings. The ability to preserve these recordings and make them available to other scholars is a cornerstone of the EVIA Project. Even when such recordings have been deposited into an institutional archive, raw ethnographic field video has only been available by visiting these archives, many of which have limited capabilities for providing access to video. In effect, several decades of visual documentation as part of field research has been closed to further research and is now in danger of being lost forever. The EVIA Project is devoted to creating preservation and access solutions for this material. Out of this core premise developed an extended research support mission that has developed tools and infrastructure to not only preserve and document recordings, but to make them part of the scholarly enterprise through a unique form of peer-reviewed publication. As part of this support for scholarship published online, we create persistent URLs (PURLs) for all video segments. These PURLs facilitate long-term access to video content and enable authors to publish links in printed material or to ensure that content linked from within a digital publication will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

The same infrastructure that supports scholarship also enables these rich documents of cultural life and artistry from around the world to be shared with the public and the communities from which they were recorded. The EVIA Project grew out of the needs of scholars but from the beginning they recognized the importance of making these materials available to the communities that they document. The EVIA Project is devoted to exploring and extending the role of the archive in research, scholarship, and public sector educational contexts. We see that the work we are doing has important implications for future fieldwork methodologies and the repatriation of materials back to the countries and consultants where the materials were collected.

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