Partially supported by a NULab Seedling Grant
Shakespeare and Punjab Digital Archive (SPDA) is an open-access digital archive which maps, for the first time, the history of Punjab’s engagement with Shakespeare in both India and Pakistan using translations, performances, photographs, reviews, journal articles, and memorabilia, amongst other things. With the help of the NULab Seedling Grant, SPDA has been able to digitize twenty-two books from Norah Richard’s collection and archives at Punjabi University, Patiala (Punjab, India). And, over the spring of 2022, three educational institutions from Pakistan, namely, the University of Punjab, Forman Christian College, and Dayal Singh College, will begin digitizing articles and reviews written by their students and faculty on Shakespeare from the early 1990s.
While these books, journals, and articles are digitized, SPDA has been in active conversation with the university librarians and archivists, students, and local community members to analyze the complex issues of ownership and access in how people choose to interact with these collections. Which institutional and standard appraisal practices enable limited access to these collections? How do they transform archives into active sites where social power is contested or negotiated? And, later, extend this analysis to the texts (translations and adaptations) housed by these archives. Which stories are of enduring value to the community and why? How are they preserved? What do these stories and methods of preservation say about the region’s collective memory and history? Power is central to the conversation here, not only because of Shakespeare’s complicated relationship with India but also because of archives’ restrictive attitudes towards access globally.
Vijeta Saini, PhD Student, English