Archival Science

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 187–207

From explorers to evangelists: Archivists, recordkeeping, and remembering in the pacific islands

  • Evelyn Wareham

DOI: 10.1007/BF02435621

Cite this article as:
Wareham, E. Archival Science (2002) 2: 187. doi:10.1007/BF02435621


With a central focus on the cultural contexts of Pacific island societies, this essay examines the entanglement of colonial power relations in local recordkeeping practices. These cultural contexts include the on-going exchange between oral and literate cultures, the aftermath of colonial disempowerment and reassertion of indigenous rights and identities, the difficulty of maintaining full archival systems in isolated, resource-poor “micro-states,” and the driving influence of development theory. The essay opens with a discussion of concepts of exploration and evangelism in cross-cultural analysis as metaphors for archival endeavor. It then explores the cultural exchanges between oral memory and written records, orality, and literacy, as means of keeping evidence and remembering. After discussing the relation of records to processes of political and economic disempowerment, and the reclaiming of rights and identities, it returns to the patterns of archival development in the Pacific region to consider how archives can better integrate into their cultural and political contexts, with the aim of becoming more valued parts of their communities.


archival theoryarchives and colonialismindigenous identities and record keepingoral and literate culturesPacific Island archives

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evelyn Wareham
    • 1
  1. 1.International Council on ArchivesParisFrance