UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Alternative becomings, alternative belongings : Cordillera case studies of records in context Maestro, Lara


The creation, maintenance, transmission, and preservation of knowledge over time is common to human cultures around the world. Knowledge-keeping practices differ based on social and cultural context, and can take a variety of forms, including the oral, the embodied, and the written word. Archival studies is the discipline and profession that concerns itself with the management and care of knowledge in the form of records. However, archival theory originating in the European tradition, which is based on the custody of documents generated by bureaucratic states, has not traditionally considered records to include knowledge kept in forms other than the written word. Inspired by movements within the archival profession to expand the theoretical definitions that underpin archival work, this paper considers two examples of knowledge-keeping mechanisms – the bodong and Cordillera Day – in order to determine community-based approaches to the subjects of the record and the archives: the bodong system and Cordillera Day. It provides an analysis of how the bodong, an Indigenous socio-political system used in the Kalinga province of the Philippines, functions as a record among the Basao, Butbut, and Tanglag tribes. It also provides an analysis of how Cordillera Day, an annual political and cultural event bringing together the various Indigenous tribes in the Cordillera region of Luzon, functions as a living archive. This exploration was conducted using unstructured interviews, participant observation, and content analysis during fieldwork conducted in the Cordillera region of the Philippines, primarily in Kalinga Province. The study concludes that the bodong and Cordillera Day function in such a way that they are analogous to established archival definitions of the archive and the record, but that they do not need to be understood as such by the community in order to be useful or successful. Further, this thesis finds that the recordkeeping practices of these Indigenous communities is inextricably linked with political struggles for the defense of ancestral lands and for self-determination. The study suggests that flexible and social-justice oriented interpretations of archival theory, such as were applied during the study, could open possibilities for archivists to better meet their custodial, ethical, and affective obligations.

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