Keep it manageable! Since receiving this good advice from project mentors, I’ve been mulling how to focus our “Banda through Time” public-focused heritage web site and pilot digital repository in a way that keeps the project manageable at the same time as demonstrates its potential for community engagement. Working together with Veronique Plante, an MA student at the University of Victoria, I’m still in the process of delimiting a narrower scope for the pilot repository, but in the meantime we’ve made good progress in inventorying, collating and digitizing prospective resources.
In October I traveled to the University of Washington to meet with René Bravmann, an art historian who undertook research in the Banda area in the late 1960s. He has kindly agreed to include photos from his work in the repository and generously allowed me to return to Victoria with a collection of slides and negatives that we are in process of digitizing. Hours have been spent reviewing the contents of my slide collection and selecting examples for cleaning and scanning. We are mindful that in selecting images, crafting metadata and developing a narrative frame for the web portal, we are engaged in a process of archive- and history-making. So too are we mindful of the need to consult with Banda constituencies, a process made difficult by the fact that we’re engaged in this work on a Pacific-rim island far from Banda! But plans are underway for a June trip to Ghana during which I’ll be meeting with Banda traditional authorities and community members to discuss proposed content, progress to date, and directions for the work.
I’ve also initiated dialogue with archaeology colleagues in Ghana about initiatives we might pilot aimed at developing stable digital archives for archaeological research that has been conducted in Ghana. Again, I’m mindful of the need to keep my Digital Archaeology Institute activities focused so as to have tangible results by August, but I’m also keen to ensure that those results are scalable and thus lay the foundation for longer-term and sustainable digital resources. Having recently attended a session on data management strategies hosted by our university library and participated in an SAA webinar on data management strategies, I’m increasingly focused in my role as department chair on ways that we can build these issues into our departmental curriculum and mulling the steps we need to take to ensure long-term preservation and access to our research data.