TODAY -

UK (University of Kentucky) Experts on Indian Digitization Project Team
- DigitizeManipur project -

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 16, 2008)

Recently librarians and scholars from the University of Kentucky and the International Dunhuang Project at The British Library visited Imphal, the capital of the state of Manipur in northeast India, to study the state's endangered manuscripts. The fact-finding team, which included three UK experts, visited on behalf of a consortium working on the DigitizeManipur project.

The DigitizeManipur project and visit were initiated and organized by L. Somi Roy, a New York-based media curator and a native of Manipur. The group's objective for the journey was to assess private Manipuri archives and determine the best preservation and conservation plans for the Tibeto-Burman state's historic documents.

DigitizeManipur and the fact-finding team's visit were made possible by a grant from the Shelly and Donald Rubin Foundation. The project has amassed additional support from the Office of the Chief Minister of Manipur and Principal Secretary (Home) D.S. Poonia for the government of Manipur.

The objective of the DigitizeManipur project is to survey, examine and assess ancient and historic manuscripts, and to prepare to undertake their digitization for their preservation, conservation and study. The project is a private undertaking that is in its exploratory stage and will be followed by an examination of possible strategies for its future development. Other members in the consortium working on DigitizeManipur represent The New York Public Library and Cambridge Buddhist Institute.

In addition to the specific project goals of the digitization of Manipuri manuscripts, the long-term objective of DigitizeManipur is to build an academic framework to facilitate individuals using the resources for study and research once the manuscripts have been digitized. It is hoped that providing a private mechanism to foster scholarly exchanges among U.S., British and Manipuri scholars will form the foundation forcomparative and collaborative study of foothills and mountain culture affinities.

The UK experts visiting Imphal as part of the DigitizeManipur team were Evelyn Knight, director of the UK Appalachian Center; Mary Molinaro, director of UK Libraries Preservation and Digital Programs; and Rebecca Ryder, head of UK Libraries Preservation Services. Joining the team was Rachel Roberts, a photographer at the International Dunhuang Project at The British Library.

The team's visit, which ran April 21-27, included stops at the Manipur State Archives, as well as the private archives of Oja N. Khelchandra and Chanam Hemchandra, the People's Museum in Kakching, and the collection of the late Pundit Achouba Moirangthem Chandra Singh.

For the team's visit, host Manipur University organized the five-day meeting, "A Colloquium on International Digital Preservation and Conservation and Scholarship in Manipur: An Exploration of an International Learning Community," with Manipuri scholars making presentations on Manipur's language and linguistics, historiography, culture, and environment and economic development. In turn, the visiting team of U.S. and British experts gave presentations on their personal work and their home institutions' practices.

Reflecting on the project, Knight explained, "DigitizeManipur brings together scholars and communities of practice from across many disciplines and professions to preserve and study endangered traditional knowledge, and also to understand and demonstrate its value in a modern context."

Furthermore, she notes the value in correlations that can be drawn between documents found both here and in India, "One example that relates closely to Manipur, the birthplace of modern polo, and Kentucky, is the history of the horse in commerce, warfare, recreation and spirituality found in the manuscripts, which may serve to enlighten our current understandings of equine culture."


University of Kentucky News Link here.




This information is courtesy of University of Kentucky News .
This was webcasted on July 27th 2008


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