For me, “Knowledge Equity” means having the inclusion of marginalized voices of our movement. It also means free and easy access to the local cultural heritage and the indigenous knowledge. The problem nowadays are the restrictions and the barriers that stop us from being able to open this knowledge to public – whether it is in the form of restricted public access to the cultural institution works or lack of platforms that support the oral knowledge.
I am currently working on the Heritage GLAM project, which involves working closely with the cultural institutions in North India and the Wikisource community. We have formed partnerships with the government libraries for free access to digitize the rare literature books and manuscripts, in order to make them available on the internet for free. Our motivation is to improve and increase the access of free knowledge in Punjabi language in the form of downloadable e-books transcribed on Wikisource which can be used to cite the encyclopedia articles and academic research. This work is a priority because most of the Indic languages don’t have similar projects.
One of the common challenges in the emerging communities in the Global South are the lack of funds, manpower and technical expertise required for engagement in such GLAM-wiki projects. Another challenge is the lack of biographic information of authors to identify their copyright status. It is an issue that is prevalent in the Indic region.
The lesson the global movement can learn from my own and my colleagues experiences is that the needs of community differ with region. In India, the Indic wikisource community need sources online. We don’t have the privilege to think about local Wikipedia articles unless we have our own primary sources for citation. Wikisource is helping us do that, so that one day we are able to hear about the local knowledge from various platforms instead of translating it from other languages.
By 2030, I hope the power dynamics change within the movement and it becomes more decentralized. That there are organizations that can work in the movement independently from each other but also coming on their own for certain projects. By 2030, I envision for the cultural institutions in India to follow the open access culture like other Western institutions such as The Met and The British Library for more freedom of public access to our cultural heritage.
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