What is «ஆவணம்»? – 2

This post is based on the original post at the Facebook page, “Archive of Tamils in Norway”, on 16th June 2020.

Why do Tamils lack knowledge or awareness about the archive?

Archaeological evidence from Keezhadi dates the Sangam era and the Tamil script “Tamil-Brahmi” around 300 years further back than 3rd Century BC. That means that Tamils were a well-settled civilisation in 6th Century BC. That automatically raises a question on when Tamils started to develop their script and civilisation when they were already a well-settled civilization in 600 BC.


Artefacts, such as clay pottery, from the Sangam era, shows that Tamils have used the Tamil script “Tamil-Brahmi” to document who a clay pot belongs to. This is also a record. Another example is inscriptions (கல்வெட்டுகள்), where Tamil kings have used Tamil script to carve on the stones to document their history.

For info for comparison:
https://www.bbc.com/tamil/india-49754995
https://worldtamilforum.com/his…/14th-century-inscription-2/
https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=37488
http://conf.jfn.ac.lk/…/JUICE2014-Tamil%20Brahmi%20Inscript…
https://www.archaeology.lk/6532

Private archive and the Norwegian archive law

Since the migration, Tamils have been operating forces for Tamil organisations in the diaspora. On the other hand, many Tamils are functioning as individual artists or creators.
Records created or collected by individuals are usually called “collection” or “personal archive”. The records created by individuals can be a result of an interaction with society. But not necessarily. However, Tamil organisations, like any other organization, function for social interaction.

According to Norwegian archival law, all organisational structures, apart from governmental bodies are “private organisations”. Therefore, they create “private archive”. There are many categories of “private archives”. Records by an organisation is an “organizational archive”. “Personal archive” and “collection” are two more categories of “private archive”.
According to the Norwegian archival law, private organisations do not have a duty to keep records (except financial records). Neither they have a duty to give away their records to an archive depot for long-term preservation. Nevertheless, the majority of Norwegian private organizations, non-profit and charitable organizations do create and keep records for their use of administration, control and democracy. I would like to emphasise that this does not mean that the Norwegian archival institutions do not want to have private archives. They lack private archives, especially archives of immigrant communities.

Disadvantage: Record-keeping and archiving of “private organization” is not mandatory

The result of “no obliged duty” for record-keeping and archive gives a major risk to private organisations. The risk is even higher for immigrant organisations to fall out of the sphere. Because the archive is evidence of our rights. They protect our existence in history.
As I wrote in my post from 05th June 2020, there are no traces of Tamil historical and cultural heritage at Norwegian archival institutions. But I have also observed that Tamils are sceptical to give away their archive to archival institutions related to a government, which I will look at in my future posts.

The lack of archival duty creates a lack of knowledge or awareness about the archive. Because there is no obligation to think about archive. Archival awareness is vital for private organisations, especially immigrant organisations for their administration control, democracy and to document their cultural and historical activities.
Another major factor for lack of knowledge or awareness is that Tamils already work as volunteers. They sacrifice their leisure time to contribute to operating a Tamil organisation. The organisations already lack manpower, resource and time. However, they should not forget that they are carrying a social responsibility, which I will look at in my next post.

To be continued….

Next post: What is «ஆவணம்» – part 3: Why should Tamil organisations create records?

Please do not forget that you are keeping a piece of Tamil cultural and historical heritage at your home. Please give the public access to that heritage.


Reproduction of this article is allowed when used without any alterations to the contents and the source, DsporA Tamil Archive, is mentioned.

Updated: 20th September 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s