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    History of Ignorance: A History of the Belittling of Modern Pacific Knowledge

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    Event description

    Please note that this is a hybrid event. For online attendance please sign up to obtain the Zoom link. Access link will be delivered via email upon registration.

    Modern day Pacific knowledge (data, information, records, publications) as a subset of Pacific Knowledge is largely absent from current Pacific discourse, only appearing when there is an embarrassing information/data failure. In such cases the consequences of the failure is centre of attention, with little or no emphasis placed on improving the capacity and quality of information management to prevent future failures; effectively kicking the can down the road. There is a pattern of presuming the availability of information and data, without acknowledging the need to design, implement, and maintain information management systems from which such information and data should flow. Or in the blunt language of the private sector, we are expecting a quality product, but don’t care if there is a supply chain. This PhD proposal seeks to foreground the undermining of the information management sector and subsequent impact on Pacific aspirations, governance, and developmental goals, using political economy analysis, autoethnography, and historical examination to research the sector in the Republic of Fiji, The University of the South pacific, The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and The Secretariat of the Pacific Community; in order to map out the structures and drivers causing the belittlement of Pacific knowledge.


    Opeta Alefaio is a PhD candidate with the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs. He is a Fiji islander of Tuvaluan/Fijian descent, with a background in the Fiji public service where he served as Director of the National Archives. His research will explore the forces shaping modern Pacific knowledge by examining the history information management sector. Opeta read history politics and journalism for his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of the South Pacific, and later won an Australian Leadership Award to attain a Master of Business Information Systems specialising in corporate information and knowledge management (libraries, archives, records management) at Monash University. In 2011 he was the joint recipient of the Australian Society of Archivists, Margaret Jennings Award, and in 2019 was made a Member of the Order of Fiji. He is a past president and vice president of the Pacific Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (PARBICA), and is a former executive board member of the International Council on Archives (ICA).

    Picture: Access to information, archival outreach on Rotuma Island 2015. Courtesy of the National Archives of Fij

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