TOOL OF GOVERNANCE AND EMPOWERMENT
Archives are both an essential part of effective (colonial) governance and a source for deconstructive information for decolonizing various aspects of this governance. Archives gathered by scholars provide invaluable information for decoding past scholarly encounters with various groups of indigenous peoples, as well as scholars’ thoughts about their actions while researching them.
Archives can function as a foundation for identity building and its control as well as a source of repetitive false information.
Archives are nodal points of encounters and networks the scholars were involved in. Archives can function as a foundation for identity building and its control as well as a source of repetitive false information. Archives can be re-claimed, in the same manner as the object collections, by the indigenous communities for their own empowerment – grand-scale examples of such debates resulting in establishing Sami archives can be pointed out in Finland and Norway.
Like museum collections, archives are no longer considered only a media for information for public institutions, but participate in the production of the memory of the society. Through the demands of openness and access, they reproduce and perform cultural heritage as well. Scholarly archives can be used as means of commemorating the scholar, building a monument for them. The opportunities to do the same, or lift the voice of the indigenous peoples, are more limited; The indigenous voice in these archives has been mediated, distorted and many times only served the identity building of the researcher. In revealing these processes of transformation, the archives serve an important function in enriching the national memory with critical voices of the treatment of the indigenous voices in academia and on the prerequisites and politics of scholarly activity.
The archive of Väinö Tanner, the Arctic University Museum of Norway. Handwritten notes about Kola Sámi languages. Photo: Mari Karlstad, the Arctic University Museum of Norway.