Of pictures and memories: Archival photographs and community curation of cultural resources in Borneo
This project investigates archival photographs from the Sarawak Museum in Kuching, Malaysia, taken between 1951 and 1978 in remote communities of rural Borneo. The photographs, which have never been fully documented or viewed by the subject communities, are discussed as sites of memory and cultural resources, as members of the ethnic groups use them to anchor knowledge of their history and traditions to objects, people and locations shown in the photographs. Multiple interpretations of the pictures as colonial artifacts, ethnographic evidence, museum objects and family photographs are uncovered and contribute to their interpretation. The diverse meanings determine the social significance of the images, allowing for cultural, economic and political changes happening in these ethnic groups to be traced. The project uses methods including crowd sourcing and community curation, extending the scope of archival and museum practices to establish agency for the communities to contribute to the historical discourse.