“Tamilenes liv og historie i Norge 1956-2016” (Life and history of Tamils in Norway 1956-2016; நோர்வேயில் வேர்விட்ட விழுதுகள்) was written by Umapalan Sinnadurai and published in 2016. This book has 688 pages in the Tamil version and 184 pages in the Norwegian version. The content in both versions of the book is divided into three sections. History and culture (historie og kultur), versatile pioneers (allsidige pionerer) and Tamil based initiatives (Tamil baserte initiativer). The book features information on the Tamil language, art and culture of the Tamils, as well as articles on the history of the first Eelam Tamil, who set his foot in Norway and on the individuals and organisations that participated in the 60 years (1956-2016) long history of Norwegian Tamils.
Soon, Lokalhistoriewiki.no posted parts of the book with consent from the author. The posted articles are mainly individuals and organisations oriented. Lokalhistoriewiki.no do also have a couple of other articles independently from the book.
Lokalhistoriewiki.no is a website administrated by the Norwegian Institute of Local History (Norsk Lokalhistorisk Institutt – NLI) at the National Library of Norway. The purpose of posting parts of the book at the Lokalhistoriewiki.no was to motivate as many Tamils as possible in Norway to contribute as participating writers. It is a documentation method to create a participatory heritage. Writers could collectively add new information, update, develop or write further on the original articles from the book. The website also welcomed new articles that are local and historical for Tamils in Norway. But posting the articles from the book at Lokalhistoriewiki.no had challenges to reach its purpose.
It is questionable whether the information of the Norwegian-Tamil project at Lokalhistoriewiki.no reached a wider Tamil society at that time. However, one understandable cultural reason could be the ancient Tamil tradition of publishing. Book publishing is the most common medium used for documentation in Tamil society. Commonly, the book tradition entitles the content, as a tangible medium, to an author. In the modern world, technology has paved the path to creative methods for documentation and communication. Here the dilemma between tradition and technology rise. Even though the author has given consent to update the articles originally published in his book, society has been passive or careful to intervene in the work.
Tamil organisations and individuals are documenting Norwegian Tamil society in their administrative records, anniversary booklets, Tamil magazines, newspapers, audio- and video recordings of cultural activities and many more. The majority of them are in the Tamil language. The concerning situation of these documents is the lack of systematic archiving and access to both Tamil and mainstream society. Historical documents are therefore scattered, damaged or lost. Due to this situation, creators and society, in general, are left with oral history as a main and accessible source for information.
“Life and history of Tamils in Norway 1956-2016”, is the first documentation of Norwegian-Tamil history in a book format, which was published in both Tamil and Norwegian language. The book presents only a perspective of the 60 (1956-2016) years of Tamil history in Norway. The book has been criticized for the sources used for information and lack of holistic information. However, this book is a starting point to document Norwegian-Tamil history in a book format that is available on mainstream platforms. Based on a conversation with the author in April 2020, the book project was put together based on the knowledge and experience of the author. The author himself welcomed the Tamil society, especially the young generation, to develop the documentation done so far and continue the work of documenting Norwegian-Tamil history in creative methods.
The Norwegian-Tamil project on Lokalhistoriewiki.no was reactivated in spring 2020. A project group was established at the end of 2020 to promote the work of creating a participatory and holistic Norwegian-Tamil heritage at Lokalhistoriewiki.no.
History is in continuous development. Hence, there is a necessity to update any article at Lokalhistoriewiki.no. However, the re-activation of this project isn´t a task to update the articles from the book, rather creating a widespread, holistic, truthful and diverse reflection of Norwegian-Tamil society. Even this reflection will need to be updated continuously.
The history of Tamil society in every diaspora country needs to be documented in different mediums, formats and perspectives. Thereby the diaspora Tamil history will be remembered. Hence it is evidence for identity and existence for the present and future diaspora Tamil generations. On the other hand, it is essential to do the documentation on the premises of the diaspora Tamil society. The premises need to be experienced as safe. It must be the medium for giving voice to the suppressed voices of the Tamil community, which fights for rights. It should reflect the stories the community wants to tell.
It is essential to be aware that Lokalhistoriewiki.no is not an archive. It is a Wikipedia with wiki technology. It is a form of social media but administrated by a Norwegian state body. This platform enables collaborative and participatory activity to identify, gather and share historical information that is relevant for people in Norway. Articles on this website are open for continuous elaboration. However, everyone who wants to write a new article or make changes to an existing article needs to create a user account. Thereby all user activities are logged for reference and overview purposes. A team of moderators regularly check the activity made to an article. Unnecessary changes, erase or even sabotage will therefore be easily identified and reported. Identity destruction is one of the major challenges for Eelam Tamils. They continuously resist the activities of the destruction of ethnic and cultural traces of their existence. This resistance continues in the digital platforms. Nevertheless, Lokalhistoriewiki.no would be one of many ways of disseminating Norwegian-Tamil history. It will be a great gateway to present a taste of Norwegian-Tamil heritage directly from the voices of Norwegian-Tamils to the mainstream society.
In summer 2021, the project group has sent out an open summer invitation to Norwegian-Tamil youngsters at the age of 17 to 30. The first information meeting was conducted on 08th July 2021, where more than 20 youngsters participated in a virtual meeting. The project group continuously welcome Tamil youngsters from all around Norway to take part in the creation of a participatory heritage of Norwegian-Tamil history.
Join us for a historic summer!
Norwegian-Tamil writing project on the Lokalhistoriewiki.no at the National Library of Norway.
Do you want to be involved and do something useful in your free time for the future? Present events are future history. This summer you will have a good and rare opportunity to contribute to the history of the Tamils in Norway. You can write articles about the Norwegian-Tamil culture and history on the website Lokalhistoriewiki.no and immediately see the results of your work. The project group also offers you an honorarium for the job.
Together with the Norwegian Institute of Local History (NLI) at the National Library, it has established a working group that will be the driving force behind writing the history of the Tamils in Norway. The working group aims to convey a holistic and truthful picture of the Norwegian-Tamils’ identity, culture and history. The Foundation Tamil Resource and Counseling Center (Stiftelsen Tamilsk Ressurs og Veiledning Senter – TRVS) has a role as a facilitator for the project and the Norwegian Institute of Local History (NLI) will be the mentor. NLI’s website Lokalhistoriewiki.no enables the opportunity for collaboration across generations to write and convey lexical texts and memories and experiences based on, for instance, interviews. Here is a “wish list” of articles that the project group can think of to get written in the first place:
If you would rather write about another topic or have other suggestions, contact NLI and we will give you some advice: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DsporA Tamil Archive encourages Norwegian Tamils to continue as participating writers at Lokalhistoriewiki.no, even after the completion of the project. Individuals can adopt this platform as a spare time activity. Organisations can disseminate their history to mainstream society. Tamil school teachers can incorporate this activity as a local pedagogical task in their curriculum. Such methods should be identified in other diaspora countries and incorporate into their local pedagogical curriculum. In this way, Tamil youths can promote their presence and history in their country of residence. It can strengthen their communication and integration with mainstream society. In addition, the youths will have the opportunity to state their identity in public and develop self-confidence and pride in their Tamil heritage.
Participatory Heritage. (2017). (H. Roued-Cunliffe & A. Copeland, Eds.). Facet Publishing.
Umapalan, S. (2016a). Tamilenes liv og historie i Norge 1956-2016. Tamil Books Publication.