Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Why Support Greek American Archives?

The recent interview that Meletios Pouliopoulos, founder of the non-profit organization Greek Cultural Resources, gave to professor Petros Vamvakas raises urgent questions about the present and future of non-endowed initiatives to curate, develop, and digitize Greek American archives.

The mission of the Greek Cultural Resources "is to obtain, document, preserve, archive, promote, and provide access to recordings of Greek music and relevant traditions, as well as related publications, manuscripts, images, interviews, and film/video footage for the benefit of musicians, folk dance troupes, teaching institutions, scholars, performers, collectors, and the general public.​"

The digitization of the Hellenic Chronicle has also been part of Pouliopoulos's archival activism.

A major thread in the interview was about the value of archiving and digitizing Greek American material. Why should the public care? What good does a professional archive do, and how does it contribute to the cultural vitality of Greek America?

Without a (rich, professionally curated [RPC]––and therefore institutionally endowed), archive, we obviously lose (throw away literally) substantial material and knowledge associated with our history and heritage. The loss makes us less, resulting to cultural impoverishment. For the following reasons (among others):

• Without an RPC archive we fail to recognize substantive aspects of Greek American history; without it, it is impossible to understand those before us, and appreciate their experiences, toil, and accomplishments.

• Without an RPC archive there can be no substantial historical scholarship.

• Without an RPC archive there will be no material for the making of documentaries, films, and books about Greek America.

• Without an RPC and the cultural work it makes possible (scholarship, documentaries, films, etc.), future generations cannot see the place of their families, ethnic history and culture in connection to the American fabric.

• Without an RPC archive we are bound to keep compromising historical memory in exchange for sentimental memories.

Greek American RPC archives are not a luxury, but an urgent necessity.

We need not only donations (which are invaluable), but endowments to institutionalize and support archives in perpetuity. Some Greek Americans, and more recent Greek Canadians, have recognized the value in this investment.

Let us act now, and keep building on this legacy! We owe it to our parents, grandparents the next generation as well as the broader public.

Yiorgos Anagnostou
July 26-27.

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