The Documentation Lives a Life of Its Own: The Temporal Transformation of Two Endangered Language Archive Projects

Lise M. Dobrin, Gary Holton


In this paper we describe two digital language-documentation projects that we have been involved in where the source community’s interest has changed significantly over about a ten-year period. In both cases, projects were originally undertaken with the full support of the community but without a clear commitment to making them locally applicable. In time, however, generational shift led to new community attention being focused on the language, reactivating the documentary materials and community-researcher relationships in ways that were not anticipated by anyone involved. When embarking upon documentation and revitalization projects, describing their products, or evaluating their social or scientific outcomes, it is important to remember that they are always works in progress, not least with regard to their significance for communities.


Communities; Cultural Repatriation; Digital Archiving; Digital Recordings; Ethnographic Archiving; Kinship; Web 2.0; Landownership; Endangered Languages; Language Documentation

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