The Digitization of Pacific Cultural Collections: Consulting with Pacific Diasporic Communities and Museum Experts



Abstract  Reservations about the digitization of cultural collections center on the wish for universal access and scalability. This push toward the digital can infringe on the different levels of access (or non-access) often required by indigenous communities, particularly for secret and/or sacred cultural objects. Consultation is necessary before digitizing cultural objects in order to ensure that digitization delivers the promised benefits of broadened access while respecting traditional knowledge and copyright. Culturally sensitive consultation needs to include source communities, diasporic populations, museum and cultural experts. It is only then that the Web can potentially revitalize culture, harness the power of the visual, and connect cultural objects to stories of everyday and ceremonial use and meanings. This paper is based on open-ended interviews in Australia with 27 people from the Pacific diaspora and 17 museum experts and specialists on Pacific cultures. It brings the voices of the Pacific into the discussion of digitization of cultural collections.