English subtitles for clip: File:People-are-Knowledge.ogv

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I think it's so interesting because it's really taking this idea of knowledge as conversational

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and it takes one back to that fabulous Plato quotation.

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He said "What is the point of writing if every time you go back to a book, it gives you the same answer?"

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There are so many times like that in our histories, where there really was no written record.

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What is that? Why are you doing that?

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We're filming the road, it's not the.....

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No, he's filming me. Let me see this.

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There are a lot of things which my father and my grandmother tell me....

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and if we use Wikipedia to actually capture that,

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it will benefit my grandchildren and their children as well.

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Don't look directly at the camera!

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Coming from a culture such as India, coming from a culture where so little is written down,

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do we then say we know nothing?

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Do we then say that we have no knowledge base,

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because we don't have those big libraries of Europe and America?

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Where does our knowledge...where does our understanding of wisdom come from?

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African history as a field is built around oral sources.

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I mean, of course there are other sources that are used,

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from archaeological to ethnographic material,

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but given the lack of written material in much but not all of the continent,

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the field wouldn't exist had there not been a long tradition of oral history.

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So the idea that 'oral societies' are completely different

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from 'literate societies' is a powerful idea,

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and it formed a key platform in  colonial thinking,

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of the civilising mission...

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that one of the things that made Europe more 'superior' or more 'civilised'

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was 'writing', and so you have this idea that Europe is 'literate' and Africa is 'oral'.

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And then, on the basis of that difference, people build up major ideological differences.

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Hallo Rajesh

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I am putting this call on the loudspeaker.

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Will you please introduce yourself for me?

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My name is Dr. Rajesh, and I work in a college in Rajasthan.

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I am a Senior Demonstrator in microbiology.

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Hallo... is that Biju?

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Is that Biju?

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Biju, I am going to ask you some questions in a particular way...

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because I am going to try to simultaneously translate this conversation into English.

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Biju, can you answer in English?

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No....

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This will be an audio file, this interview, that will be put on Wikipedia, on Wikimedia, okay?

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Thank you Josephine.

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Thank you! Okay.

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When I was thinking about it, I'm excited about the fact that there is more Wikipedia in India,

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but I think it would be equally interesting if there was more India in Wikipedia.

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And I think that works for South Africa as well, in a sense.

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So, for me, I think a sophisticated exchange is one in which there is two-way learning.

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There are things that happen, well, with 1.2 billion people, certainly a lot of things happen,

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which are then not being documented in a way which allows them entry

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into the formal world of knowledge.

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The thing is, many of us, people like me, played this game in our childhood.

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So we know the rules of the game, and we know how to write content for an article on it.

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But the thing with Wikipedia is that for whatever facts we write,

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we need to provide citations. But we are unable to provide citations

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because...currently, there are two reasons:

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there might not be any published source,

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and then there might be some published source, but which we don't have access to.

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So this is one perfect example of the situation.

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This game is called Kandakali by some,

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and here we call it Dappa.

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In some places, it is called Chattiyeru.

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It is also called Chilleru. <i>This game has 3 different names?</i> Yes.

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What are the rules of this game?

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We use Olapandu for this game...

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which is a ball made out of coconut leaves. The children usually make it themselves.

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They use pieces of tile which are called Dappa.

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Is this game still popular in the villages?

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Not really, children nowadays prefer cricket.

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But in this school, we conduct an annual tournament for games like Dappa, Killithattu, etc.

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It is a tournament for folk games.

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There are a vast number of folk games here; our tournament is only for some of them.

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<i>The special feature of this game is that only natural materials are used for it, right?</i> 
Yes, absolutely.

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<i>And it is cheap as well, isn't it?</i> 
Yes, you need not spend any money to play this game...

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and children get exercise. It improves their attention span and flexibility.

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I am from Blathur in Kannur district.

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I have been editing Wikipedia for 2 years...

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and organising gatherings to make Wikipedia more popular.

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I participted in the 10th anniversary celebrations of Wikipedia in Kannur.

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I myself seriously understood Wikipedia only after attending a conference on it.

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I work with the hope that Wikipedia will become a treasure-house of knowledge...

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...and continue to provide knowledge to the world for free.

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When we start talking about the question of what is 'oral' on the internet, it's no longer restricted only to audio files.

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It's also about different ways and transitions by which people translate different cultural contexts,

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physical practices, material practices, everyday life, onto different forms on the internet.

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Which is why we've always talked about the internet as an alternative space.

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Not alternative because it necessarily allows for 'different' kinds of voices - it generally does not -

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the internet is often a very homogenised space,

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but it allows for people to express, articulate and document things which would otherwise not find

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place within the canons of literature and documentation and so on.

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It is interesting to see that while Wikipedia claims to be an internet form,

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it doesn't necessarily look at internet objects as sources of verification.

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And by that I mean not just blogs which are traditional ways of writing on the internet,

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but things that the internet has itself evolved and developed in order to create systems and designs of trust.

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But I think my argument is, is something true only because it has been validated by a scholarly tradition

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of academics in universities, or is something true because it is?

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And how can we show it?

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Within the women's movement, one of the things that was a real learning experience for me,

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and other middle-class activists like me who were mainly urban,

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was to actually come into contact with women and listen to their stories.

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And in listening to their stories, we began to learn how to...

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how very different a perspective they gave us, on what their received knowledge was...

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which we knew through the things that are called fact....

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which are things like documented information, things like statistical information and so on.

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I began to learn then that there are stories and realities that lay behind and beyond these things,

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which were equally important for us to try and understand.

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Time and again, I came up against this whole business of...how factual is fact?

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If you like...or, how much can you trust the document?

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My primary and high school education was up north in Polokwane, and the medium of instruction was Sepedi.

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From there I moved to Pretoria, to Pretoria Technikon, where the medium of instruction there, at the time, was Afrikaans, with a bit of English thrown in.

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Sepedi is the preferred language that I would like to use, but when I started working, I realised that there aren't any Sepedi books that we could use,

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especially in IT, there is nothing there in Sepedi.

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There were a few articles that I really wanted to do, on things that I heard growing up, but the issue is that there is no reference material that we can use.

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So there was interest, but there was nothing to support it, so I didn't persist.

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I think there are a lot of potential articles from cultural aspects where elderly people would know more about it than I would.

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And I think that Wikipedia could be used to transfer that knowledge from people who have it,

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the know how - especially when talking of culture - and those kinds of articles,

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to write them in English would not benefit the Sepedi-speaking community at large.

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Some of these things, if I was trying to say them in English, would lose a lot of meaning. So they have to be done in Sepedi.

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I have this article that I want to do on the Mopani worms on Sepedi Wikipedia.

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Mopani worms are eaten quite a lot in the north. They're nutritional, they are....

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I'm told they are tasty, I've not yet had the opportunity to eat them....

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there's an old lady in the north who I'm going to call to give us a recipe and tell us a bit of the history of Mopani worms....

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where do they get them? And how do they go about preparing them.

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Hallo Josephine!

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We squeeze the Mopani worms, then put them into boiling water for a bit...

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and add some salt to the mixture. Finally, we take the whole thing outdoors and put the Mopani worms in the sun to dry...

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My name is Josephine Moremi

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Marula is from this tree up here; 
the fruits fall to the ground...

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and when they mature, we take their skins out and collect the insides of the fruit.

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We put the insides of the fruit in water, and mix it, and that is how we make Amarula.

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We drink Amarula during the months of March and April...

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because after that, the trees stop producing these fruit.

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It's seen that interviews are proprietorial because they are the product of an individual's labour.

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And here, there's an entire structure of authority that's built around this.

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The historian acts as the intermediary between the archive - whether it's a written archive or an oral archive - and the audience.

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And by doing so, he gains authority. He also frames the archive in ways that he wants it to be framed.

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Now, the interesting question is, what happens if we open up that process?

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Then suddenly, the audience has access to the archive that the historian is basing his arguments on.

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There's no reason right now why every single journal article couldn't have not only just the written sources hyperlinked, as footnotes,

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but also oral interviews or video interviews hyperlinked as footnotes.

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In that case, suddenly that entire structure of authority disappears.

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If you let people have access to your interviews, and particularly in such a way that you can get nuance and context,

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then suddenly the authorship of the text is opened up. It explodes in multiple ways.

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And so the very authority on which the discipline of history is founded becomes much more uncertain.

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But that's also quite exciting...

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Our countries, India, Pakistan, countries in this part of the world, we don't set a value on the written word,

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as much as we do on orality - the passing on of information.

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And this is why, when you're trying to look back at Indian history, and when you're trying to look back at ancient India, you really find nothing,

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because there wasn't a written history, it was more of a symbolic history.

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So in a sense, you also have to be aware of that, that when you're getting an oral interview, you're getting one person's interpretation,

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one person's recounting of a situation.

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If you have a hundred people who live through that situation, you will get a picture that is broadened out.

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You'll get much more nuance, and you might even get some contradictions,

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but that is how people experience situations.

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So as long as you know what to expect, or as long as you know what to listen for, and you're not taking this as the only truth of a situation,

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I think that this is actually something that can be very exciting.

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Hindi language publishing is not doing as well as it should have,

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considering the huge numbers we have, considering the demands that we have.

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My belief is that not a single page that gets printed and published in Hindi goes unread. There's such a huge population to devour that.

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Reference section....the Hindi libraries and others. This one...just recently started, this one. <i> The whole thing is the Hindi section? </i>

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There's a huge hunger for knowledge.

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And all the institutions that we have, even the publishing institutions are not able to cater to them.

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They are still dependent upon the old network of government offices and libraries that was set up a long time back.

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And they are not trying to enhance their network.

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This is the archive of CSDS. Archived materials. <i>And this is all in English?</i>

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Yes, all in English. Because, mostly, all the government records are in English.

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So no records are in Hindi?

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Because Hindi publication is very poor.

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Even if you go to the elections office, you will find all the records in the English language.

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Hindi cannot hope to compete with English, which is a world language,

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which gets fed from so many constituencies, which has a huge backing of knowledge and resources.

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There is a definite upswing in publishing - of books and houses in recent years.

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But I don't think it's very well networked.

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But that raises a larger question about knowledge construction and transmission and distribution in general.

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Knowledge is also distributed according to languages.

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There is definitely a boundary created: and the publics are also constituted according to linguistic boundaries.

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And in Hindi, a large part of the knowledge produced in Hindi does not follow the protocols of research.

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For example, you might be surprised to find that there is not a single refereed journal to this date that is published in Hindi.

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So how do researchers validate themselves?

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How do they publish books, get peer reviewed before publication etc.?

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Absolutely not - they don't.

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And we'll have to...at Wikipedia, or wherever...we'll have to innovate, to include that knowledge,

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so that we speak to the rest of the world with that kind of knowledge.

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If Wikipedia is everybody's encyclopaedia, and it's not an expert's encyclopaedia,

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and if it is to go on increasing its own knowledge base then the future lies not just with the written world,

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but with the audio visual world, which is where a lot of that knowledge still stays.

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It's transferred from one generation to another, with alterations, with changes, with modifications...

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a lot of things get forgotten, a lot of things get added, but it's still...

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you know...a surviving language spoken by millions....

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and I think I'm speaking for many languages like this, with millions...

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When I started editing on English Wikipedia, all my edits were reverted.

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The administrators would tell me that since I had no references or citations...

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I should not assert my 'personal point of view.'

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But there are very few printed sources or citations in Hindi Wikipedia...

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and similarly so for Punjabi, Sanskrit and Nepali Wikipedias, which I also edit.

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In order to address this gap, an interesting solution would be to provide...

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references for articles lacking them through oral citations.

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Hallo... is this Deepak Tripathi?

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I am Siddharth Tripathi calling from Gurgaon.

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I am trying to conduct an audio interview for use on Wikipedia, to serve as an oral citation...

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and I want to create an article on the game we call Sur.

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What can you tell me about Sur?

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I should also tell you that I would like to use this conversation on Wikipedia...

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and I hope this is okay with you.

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No, I have no objection whatsoever...

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Could you tell me more of what you know about Sur?

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Sur is a game that has been played in villages for a long time.

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It is mainly played by children.

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This will benefit Wikipedia, its users, and everyone else...

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knowledge never causes any harm.

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This is knowledge that is available to us, to use if required...

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and at least, it gives us something that was missing earlier.

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There's this wonderful definition of a language: A language is a dialect backed by an army.

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And I think the interesting question here was, how all those different dialects, all those regional variations

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spoken across Southern Africa ended up as 11 languages,

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is very centrally tied up with the intervention of Christian missions.

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South Africa is one of the most heavily missionised parts of the continent, and it's one of the first.

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Missionaries come in, and as they move inland, they meet largely non-literate societies.

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There would have probably been little bits of writing washing around, letters that had made their way into the interior,

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but it's missionaries coming into a situation where there is no written script.

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And what tends to happen then, of course, is that the missionaries are the ones who invent orthographies.

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And they tend to invent them in keeping with the languages they know.

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That produces an incredibly complicated situation,

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when what is technically the same language has in one region been written down by French missionaries,

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and in the other has been written down by German missionaries.

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So the same sound can come to be represented in different ways.

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So missions set up orthographies as well as institutions of writing, schooling and printing...
and publishing mechanisms.

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And generally, they exercised high degrees of control over those mission presses.

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And it was generally quite difficult for Africans to publish stuff that didn't conform to mission models.

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It often became a real source of contention between the African elites and mission presses.

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Anyway, mission presses then had this agenda of producing material that was religious and evangelical,

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and missions also assumed major responsibility for the primary and secondary education of Africans, until quite late...

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until the 1950s.

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The older narrative has a stronger chance of survival, and continuing, on the margins,

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outside the mission domain in Africa, because the places in which oral storytelling happens,

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the possibilities for that skill to be continued, do persist.

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And generally it's a household form...it will be told in the household, so it's got a chance...

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and it's a well established tradition, so despite the mission intervention, it does carry on to a certain extent.

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And this is generally where you're going to find the books that are written in the languages of Africa.

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Right.

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Obviously we cover the whole continent,

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so you'll have English, French, German...

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and South African languages?...

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Yes, the preponderance is on the South African languages.

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We arrange our book collection according to the Library of Congress classification,

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so when you get into among books that have got PL on their spines, that means you're in the languages of Africa,

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which can be from the North to the South.

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If you come here, you'll see the start of what we can offer people in Northern Sotho.

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It's not a very long sequence, it ends at about there.

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So...until about here. So the total collection is about this and this...until about here.

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It's a shelf.

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I would imagine that the amount of scholarly material that exists elsewhere is fairly thin.

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I mean, original scholarly material in Northern Sotho?

253 
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The impression that I have is yes; I would agree with you.

254 
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It's the same old story, if you wish to publish,

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you have to find a publisher who's going to find it worth his or her while to print in numbers, and that's a very difficult proposition.

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I imagine that there's very little scholarly publishing that happens in languages other than English and Afrikaans, no?

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I think that's a fair comment. <i>That's a fair comment...</i>

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Do you see a way by which both the openness of Wikipedia,

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as well as specific work on Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects has some kind of relationship with the university that could be useful?

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Certainly. The university has been doing a lot of...or some...work around publishing work

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with Creative Commons licenses.

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There's a site for instance, I think it's presentations.wits.ac.za where a number of academics and other members

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of the university community put their presentations and many of them use different kinds of CC licenses.

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There is interesting work happening in the multimedia space.

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And some of the people involved in this, including the Dean of that faculty, the faculty of humanities, are very interested in the work of Wikipedia.

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They get it. They understand it, and they can see the potential for collaboration.

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The people who are involved in library work, people like Denise Nicholson, have been doing a lot of work around copyright/copyleft.

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I think that the chapter really provides an opportunity to give access to information to people who ordinarily don't have that information.

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Just in terms of a research tool, in terms of a teaching tool, you know.

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Just a few months ago, straight after the World Cup last year, we had a change in our school's curricula.

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So the syllabus was changed mid-year and the teachers didn't know what they were teaching.

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And it still is that way.

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They still have to create the syllabi, they still have to find their feet in terms of what they have to be teaching at school.

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So we essentially have our education system in crisis.

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I think my concern here is about people's knowledge, versus scholarly knowledge again.

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What you call usable knowledge or tacit knowledge.

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Tacit knowledge comes from practice, and practice is embodied:

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it's embodied in experience.

279 
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The name of the temple is Kottathu, and it is also known as Neeliyar Kaavu.

280 
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The name Neeliyar Kaavu is more famous.

281 
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What is the name of this Theyyam?

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The name of this Theyyam is Kottathamma, and it is popularly known as Neeliyar Bhagavathi.

283 
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Among locals, the name Kottathamma is used more frequently.

284 
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Olathara is another local name by which this Theyyam is known.

285 
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What is the distinguishing feature of the costume of this Theyyam?

286 
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This Theyyam has long hair and is dressed completely in red.

287 
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There was an illam, a Brahmin residence, at Manathara, near Kottiyur in Kanur.

288 
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Since that illam was in a remote place, when other Brahmins visited, they were forced to stay there.

289 
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It is said that when people went to bathe in the illam pond, they would disappear.

290 
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Once, Kalakaad Thanthri, a famous Brahmin, visited this illam.

291 
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In the evening, he went to the illam pond to bathe, taking a towel and thali (leaves used as soap) with him.

292 
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He saw a beautiful lady standing on the other side of the pond.

293 
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The lady asked him - Who are you? He replied - I am Kalakaad.

294 
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Then the lady said - I am Kali (the Goddess).

295 
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Kali took the thali from him and squeezed it and gave him the juice.

296 
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He drank it, saying that it was amruth (holy nectar), given to him by the Goddess.

297 
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The Goddess Kali was pleased with him and told him to install her in a place where the tiger and the cow graze together.

298 
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He installed Goddess Kali at Mangattu Parambu. As the myth goes, that is how she came here.

299 
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Theyyam is a form of worship.

300 
00:36:08,700 --> 00:36:16,475
We worship through idols, pictures, etc.

301 
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God incarnates as human beings and devotees are then able to interact with Him directly...

302 
00:36:28,070 --> 00:36:33,000
and this is the premise of Theyyam worship.

303 
00:36:33,200 --> 00:36:51,600
About Neeliyar Bhagavathi, there are many stories in the villages here...

304 
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but the songs in the performances do not mention these stories.

305 
00:36:58,170 --> 00:37:04,000
They do not mention anything beyond the manifestation of a divine power, Shakti.

306 
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The myths that circulate about the Goddess Kali are not substantiated by the lyrics of the songs.

307 
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I haven't come across any basis for the stories.

308 
00:37:51,321 --> 00:37:56,801
This library started funtioning in 1998, and it was open to the public in 1999.

309 
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This is the history section. History. And this is the Malayalam section.

310 
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We have more than 30,000 books, and out of this, about 20% is Malayalam.

311 
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Here we have a collection on sociology, written in Malayalam.

312 
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Kerala Paddanam. Adivasi Puravarta...about tribals. This is the tribal...folklore section.

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When we started our work with Kali, the most difficult thing was to work with women

314 
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and actually get them to feel a sense of confidence

315 
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that what they had to say had any value at all.

316 
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Because by that time the hierarchies of what constituted legitimate knowledge and what was outside the frame of that,

317 
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what the canons were, and what those boundaries were, had been set....

318 
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set in stone almost.

319 
00:39:13,840 --> 00:39:21,041
Now to rupture that, to enter that, to stretch and expand the boundaries of that, to nuance that,

320 
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to bring in new forms of knowledge into that,

321 
00:39:24,441 --> 00:39:25,720
was a very difficult enterprise.

322 
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And it was more difficult  because those people who could produce that knowledge themselves did not have the confidence to be able to do that.

323 
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So then a space was opened up, for a much greater sense, of not just oral history as sources for facts,

324 
00:39:43,721 --> 00:39:50,481
but oral history as a key avenue to understanding different forms of historical experience.

325 
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But what you are posing is the possibility of a new stage.

326 
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Which is to be able to put all of these different modes of producing history...

327 
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to make them all open to a kind of equal access...

328 
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so where writers of history have access to them and can produce from them,

329 
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but also where readers of history have access to them.

330 
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And that invites readers of history to act as writers of history.

331 
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This game (tsere tsere) is usually played by very young children, starting from about the age of 4. As they grow older, they stop playing it.

332 
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Today is something like a memorial to the game; that's the spirit in which we are playing it.

333 
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The younger generation, they no longer play this game; they are only interested in playing ball.

334 
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The youth of today are definitely not playing this game.

335 
00:41:09,700 --> 00:41:12,120
Yes, we still play the game (tsere tsere), though the rules have changed a little.

336 
00:41:12,200 --> 00:41:20,300
In our version of the game, we draw small squares which act as symbols for the 'houses'...

337 
00:41:20,400 --> 00:41:27,150
and then we play the game, moving from 1 to 8.

338 
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When we are done with jumping, we are still not allowed to step between the lines.

339 
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Have a nice trip!

340 
00:42:19,360 --> 00:42:25,641
A lot of these stories are about, you know, as I was saying, strongly erotic themes,

341 
00:42:26,080 --> 00:42:29,841
themes of excess, themes of desire, all of those sorts of things,

342 
00:42:30,601 --> 00:42:32,561
and that has been lost.

343 
00:42:33,360 --> 00:42:38,800
And they are also wonderfully magical-realist tales, they're bizarre, and unexpected,

344 
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and of course a lot of that has also been lost as they've been made more realist.

345 
00:42:44,400 --> 00:42:52,240
And of course when missionaries come, they then start to write down those stories in keeping with their understanding of European fairy tale.

346 
00:42:53,001 --> 00:42:58,560
And interestingly, this process of writing down European oral narrative happens at much the same time.

347 
00:42:59,160 --> 00:43:04,680
So the Grimm Brothers, for instance, start to write down and clean up at the same time....

348 
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Just a footnote: there's a wonderful story about the original version...one of the original versions of Little Red Riding Hood.

349 
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It's kind of extraordinary.

350 
00:43:15,480 --> 00:43:21,200
She goes off to visit her grandmother, and her grandmother has been fully eaten,

351 
00:43:21,681 --> 00:43:25,440
there's a bottle of blood that she thinks is wine and that she drinks,

352 
00:43:25,720 --> 00:43:28,560
and of course the wolf in the story seduces her.

353 
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So these famous lines from Red Riding Hood, "My, what big ears you have!" is because she's sitting right next to him.