Preserving Algeria's audiovisual memory: EU-funded project putting digitized archives online
Med-Mem, a project to protect and enhance audiovisual memory in the Mediterranean, funded by the EU in the framework of the Euromed Heritage IV programme, is creating an online database of Euro-Mediterranean audiovisual archives, amounting to 4,000 searchable documents, which will be launched in September 2012. To highlight the work of the project, Euromed Heritage has published a feature on the work taking place at the heart of the Algerian archives, one of several taking part in the project.
“More than four hundred subjects have been already treated and are today accompanied by their forms, filled and translated into three languages," said Leila Haoues, director of archives and documentation at Algerian Television. "Research and case studies have been carried out. Every partner in the project must develop an editorial note for every document selected, in order to contextualize the different archives, and to provide a better readability of these documents.”
The future Med-Mem site aims to become a reference in the field of Mediterranean audiovisual heritage and to promote the safeguarding of archives, intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding by providing young generations, students and researchers with the opportunity to discover, share and take ownership of their respective audiovisual heritage.
It hopes, as well, to attract more potential contributors and holders of archives who wish to contribute to enrich the Med-Mem stock. Finally, the site will offer numerous functionalities. It will allow for instance to select the language of choice, to access documents through different means, be they cartographic, chronological or thematic, and to view online the selected archives.
Going back to pre-independence days, the number of archived documents belonging to Algerian public television is close to 230,000 programmes. The Algerian archives - like many Mediterranean archives - are facing serious problems of degradation of the original film support, mainly due to the vinegar syndrome, a fact that emphasizes the need for initiatives, such as Med-Mem, which preserve this collective memory in a digital form. After an initial assessment in the Algerian television archives carried out with the support of the EU experts, the staff appointed to take on the task received several trainings as part of the project, as well as a digitalization station to convert the old media files into digital ones.
“A memory is different from a souvenir," says Mrs. Haoues: "it must be completely exploited and handed down, or it will be deficient. In fact memory traces fade naturally over time, if the information is not fixed.” As such, the preservation of audiovisual heritage – as with other memory supporting tools – remains an integral part of the very notions of knowledge and culture: every nation holds the keys to its history.
The objectives of the Med-Mem project are to:
- Stimulate intercultural dialogue and understanding of a shared history among the people of the Mediterranean region by providing current and future generations of researchers, students and the larger public the opportunity to discover, share and appropriate their audiovisual heritage
- Stimulate and facilitate a safeguarding strategy for this audiovisual heritage within the Mediterranean by the keepers of this audiovisual archive
EuroMed Heritage IV is a €17 million EU-funded programme which contributes to the exchange of experiences on cultural heritage, creates networks and promotes cooperation with the Mediterranean Partner Countries. It focuses on the appropriation by the local populations of their cultural heritage and favours access to education and knowledge of cultural heritage. It supports a framework for the exchange of experiences, channels for the dissemination of best practices and new perspectives aimed at the development of an institutional cultural environment. (EU Neighbourhood Info)