Anthropological Archive Management – Case Study of Michael Moerman’s Anthropological Fieldwork Material from Tai Lue Community in Payao Province

Ms. Thanwadee Sookprasert   Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre
Mr. Sittisak Rungcharoensuksri   Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre

This paper aims to develop an understanding of the ethical concerns and issues regarding cultural property rights in the Thai context, with a specific focus on ethnographic materials. The paper examines source community attitudes toward fieldwork materials belonging to Michael Moerman, an American anthropologist who conducted research in a Tai Lue community in Payao province between 1959 to 1986. These materials were donated to the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre and they will be accessible through the Centre’s digital archive to the public and to scholars for research. Because of the potential reach of these materials, the authors of this paper are particularly interested in what are called sensitive materials. For example: do members of this community believe that sensitive materials should not be available through the digital archive? The paper argues that the source community is aware of cultural rights on different level. People from the community are more interested in possessing digital objects, such as copies of photographs and movies, in order to remain nostalgic about the good old days than claiming rights for screening community information that are available via the anthropological archive database. The outcome from research can be useful in the development of SAC protocols for setting parameters around digital repatriation and access.

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