Migration, Mobility and Connection

Migrating People, Migrating Data

This project examines the archival, custodial and digital challenges that impact the discovery, collection, preservation and content management of material and immaterial traces from the past that the Netherlands shares with Australia. In partnership with key institutional and community stakeholders, our pilot study on mobility between these two countries is about developing new understandings of the experience and representation of migration and how this has shaped an evolving sense of Dutch-Australian heritage and, with it, the consequences for the formation of cultural identities.

The deliberate play in the subtitle "Migrating People, Migrating Data" is to signal the thematic content of the parent project, Migrant, Mobilities and Connection – that is, the socio-cultural material traces that append to the historical activity of people moving from one region to settle in another, in which the movement of bodies through space combines with information about their mobility through time. At the same time, it is to also signal the technical and conceptual challenges surrounding the consolidation of different data sources (both hard copy and digital) from a prior generation of technology to successive generations. For example, many Dutch community groups in both countries are actively collecting documents, artefacts, photographs and maps to pass on to future generations. However, few have developed sustainable workflows to ensure the sustainability of their "collections" and rarely are they familiar with cataloguing and metadata conventions which help describe an item's provenance, role and position in the world. Planning for digital preservation therefore is uneven, leading to concerns about a "digital gap" in a community's history. Mitigating the deleterious effects then of information loss and fading human recollection is an issue central to both the continued accessibility of cultural heritage materials and the digital preservation of historical knowledge beyond technology format lifetimes.

Project Members

  • Dr Nonja Peters, Curtin University & Western Sydney University
  • Professor Paul Arthur, Western Sydney University
  • Dr Jason Ensor, Western Sydney University
  • Dr Marijke van Faassen, Huygens ING
  • Dr Rik Hoekstra, Huygens ING