Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures

A race against time to digitise analog records of materials from endangered cultures from all over the world.

We hold 15,700 hours of audio recordings and 2,600 hours of video recordings that might otherwise have been lost. These recordings are of performance, narrative, singing, and other oral tradition. This amounts to 200 terabytes, and represents 1,335 languages, mainly from the Pacific region.
Apu Kalsarap Nemaf and Limas Kalsarap reading a dictionary of their language. Erakor village, Vanuatu, 2001.
Apu Kalsarap Nemaf and Ati Limaas Kalsarap reading a dictionary of their language. Erakor village, Vanuatu, 2001.

Conference, 5-7 October 2022: Where do we need to go from here?
Language documentation and archiving during the Decade of Indigenous Languages

PARADISEC is joining with ELAR to run a conference in October 2022 (more information here). Many lessons have been learned in the last 20 years of documentation and archiving, and all over the world activists, communities, researchers, and artists have developed documentation projects, apps, art installations, archival collections, films, and multimedia projects telling the many stories and histories of Indigenous languages and their creators and keepers.

This conference brings together people working in this area to present papers, posters, and conduct training sessions aiming to develop capacity, present new approaches to documentation and preservation, and offer models of how we can create, strengthen, enhance, and amplify language records. 

The PARADISEC Podcast

Toksave: Culture Talks

Join musicologist Jodie Kell and archivist Steven Gagau in a series of interviews with people who have found personal and cultural connections with collections in the archive.

PARADISEC is a consortium of three universities: the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, and the Australian National University. Our main focus is the safe preservation of material that would otherwise be lost, especially field tapes from the 1950s and 1960s. We are actively seeking more endangered analog audio tape collections to digitise.

Our services

We digitise and archive records of the many small languages of the world. We have worked to ensure that the archive can provide access to interested communities and conforms to international standards for digital archiving. While our original focus was the Asia-Pacific region, we now hold material from all over the world. This work is now urgent as most analog tapes are not expected to last beyond 2025. We work with cultural centres in the Pacific to support managing and digitising their collections.
  • Our catalog allows users to create robust descriptions of their multimedia collections and to assign rights to other users.
  • We build models that show how to make reusable data (metadata entry tools, spreadsheets and so on) and use current tools such as Elan or Fieldworks.
  • We promote cultural preservation by providing backup and data preservation services to cultural agencies in our region (e.g., PNG , Solomon Islands, Vanuatu).
  • We house files with cultural heritage content from all over the world. We are active in finding new collections to digitise, see our ‘Lost and Found’ project.

PARADISEC@100 Conference, February 2021

Conference themes included tributes to PARADISEC’s founding Director, Emeritus Professor Linda Barwick; Repatriation and revitalisation; Managing cultural heritage; Technologies and methodologies in archiving and documentation; Approaches to repatriation and community priorities; Podcasting, and more!
Most of the presentations are now available to view on the PARADISEC Youtube Channel. More information on the conference is here 

At PARADISEC, our primary motivation is to make field recordings available to those recorded
and their descendants.
Please support our work by helping to fund our ongoing projects.

Our partners

We are a consortium made up of the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University.

Australian UNESCO Memory of the World logo
CoEDL logo
safeguarding-the-digital-legacy award
core trust seal logo

Acknowledgment of Country

PARADISEC acknowledges and pays respect to the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the Ngunawal and the Woiwurrung. It is upon their ancestral lands that this site has been built and is maintained.

We are proud to be partnering with Greenfleet to take climate action and offset our carbon emissions through native reforestation.