The Archive is the primary source of knowledge and information. The term “archive” has a different meaning based on the context. The Norwegian term for “archive” is “arkiv” and it can refer to:
- archival document
- archive division or archive service in an organisation
- a place or room where archival document are stored
- archival institution/ archive depot
The Tamil word for “archival document” is “ஆவணம்” (Aavanam). But there is confusion with this Tamil term among Tamils. They use this term in different contexts, which can create confusion and misunderstanding. Another major aspect is that almost all Tamil organisations lack a functioning “archive division or archive service in their organisation”.
Tamils refer to the word ஆவணம் to a physical or virtual document. It can also be mentioned as ஆவணப் பொருள் (archival document). The other term is “ஆவணப்படுத்தல்” (documentation). This term refers to a process of documenting an act/ event/ process. But in the Tamil context, it might be narrowed to re-tell past events or historical events in the form of text, video, audio, graphic or other forms. This is a reconstruction or re-presentation of history. The document that is created by re-telling, reconstructing or re-presenting historical events become a new record (பதிவு/ pathivu). The new record (பதிவு/ pathivu) is a result of an activity carried out by the publishing or producing organisation. The resulting document will be a historical archival document (ஆவணம்/ aavanam) of that organisation.
Here is a screenshot of a part of the web page “Black July: A Tamil Genocide” by the US-based non-profit organisation PEARL. This is taken as an example to explain the difference between original archival documents and organisational archives.
Here is a newspaper clipping, with the heading “Disposal of dead bodies without inquiry: C.R.M. expresses alarm”. This is an archival document from the archive of “Saturday Review” newspaper. This archival document (ஆவணம்/ ஆவணப் பொருள்) become a source for knowledge and information for PEARL to create the website content about Black July 1983. The content is a re-presentation of the history for a contemporary audience based on the original archival material. Now the whole webpage, “Black July: A Tamil Genocide”, will become an archival material of PEARL.
Saturday Review (11.06.1983) – PDF
The original archival document: «Saturday Review» (noolaham.net)
Saturday Review. (1983). Newspaper article Disposal of dead bodies without inquiry: C.R.M. expresses alarm by Saturday Review. Saturday Review (Noolaha id. 24766). Noolaham Foundation. Retrieved from http://noolaham.net/project/248/24766/24766.pdf.
People for Equality and Relief (PEARL). (n.a). “Black July: A Tamil Genocide”. Retrieved from https://pearlaction.org/rememberingblackjuly/.