Cultural heritage is the backbone of every nation and gives people a connection to certain social values, beliefs, religions and customs from the past. Understanding the importance of heritage conservation, Sunway University now represents Malaysia as the official partner of Decolonizing Southeast Asian Sound Archives (DeCoSEAS), a Europe-Southeast Asia consortium.
DeCoSEAS is a three-year research and community engagement project funded by the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) on Cultural Heritage and Global Change supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. It focuses on hearing and listening as dialogical modes of learning and understanding of cultural heritage.
The project proposes the decolonization of heritage curation with three objectives: the improvement of access to heritage, the transfer of agency to stakeholders of their heritage, and the diversification of heritage curation. For this aim, researchers based in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France work together with academics, curators and NGOs in Southeast Asia in opening the access of three unique sound collections located in Europe to increase accessibility for researchers and cultural originators.
DeCoSEAS strives for the inclusion of voices, stances and interpretations that have previously remained unheard in existing talks about heritage by attending to multiple voices simultaneously (those recorded from the past and those from Southeast Asian partners today). With these goals in mind, DeCoSEAS aims to provide new insights and practices of heritage curation and participation.
Sunway University is the Malaysian higher education institutional partner in collaboration with Malaysian Audio-Visual Archives (MyArchives), with the aim of providing access in the region and discussing the repatriation of material and development of an archive to be housed at the university. This would provide access to materials from recognized institutions and prominent universities in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France.
“Sunway University is very pleased to participate in this Horizon 2020 European-Southeast collaboration on Cultural Heritage to add to other prominent projects with the University of Cambridge on Infectious Diseases, Harvard University on global Health, MIT on CO2 Capture and utilisation and institutes in Singapore on Microbiomics and nutrition,” said Professor Sibrandes Poppema, President of Sunway University.
Assoc. Prof. Mayco Santaella, Head, Department of Film & Performing Arts, Sunway University and MyArchives Project Coordinator said, “Future plans for MyArchives includes the digitization of Audio and Visual documentation from various collections in Malaysia and overseas. The project aims to establish a
digital archive developed through the joint efforts of scholars, performers and researchers focusing on traditions, past and present. The material is preserved in digital format for the purposes of research, sustainability and viability of the performing arts heritage of the country.”