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Subverting the universality of metadata standards

Subverting the universality of metadata standards The purpose of this paper is to investigate the underlying meanings, effects and cultural patterns of metadata standards, focusing on Dublin Core (DC), and explore the ways in which anticolonial metadata tools can be applied to exercise and promote Indigenous data sovereignty.Design/methodology/approachApplying an anticolonial approach, this paper examines the assumptions underpinning the stated roles of two of DC’s metadata elements, rights and creator. Based on that examination, the paper considers the limitations of DC for appropriately documenting Indigenous traditional knowledge (TK). Introduction of the TK labels and their implementation are put forward as an alternative method to such limitations in metadata standards.FindingsThe analysis of the rights and creator elements revealed that DC’s universality and supposed neutrality threaten the rightful attribution, specificity and dynamism of TK, undermining Indigenous data sovereignty. The paper advocates for alternative descriptive methods grounded within tribal sovereignty values while recognizing the difficulties of dealing with issues of interoperability by means of metadata standards given potentially innate tendencies to customization within communities.Originality/valueThis is the first paper to directly examine the implications of DC’s rights and creator elements for documenting TK. The paper identifies ethical practices and culturally appropriate tools that unsettle the universality claims of metadata standards. By introducing the TK labels, the paper contributes to the efforts of Indigenous communities to regain control and ownership of their cultural and intellectual property. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Documentation Emerald Publishing

Subverting the universality of metadata standards

Journal of Documentation , Volume 75 (4): 19 – Jun 21, 2019

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
0022-0418
DOI
10.1108/jd-08-2018-0124
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the underlying meanings, effects and cultural patterns of metadata standards, focusing on Dublin Core (DC), and explore the ways in which anticolonial metadata tools can be applied to exercise and promote Indigenous data sovereignty.Design/methodology/approachApplying an anticolonial approach, this paper examines the assumptions underpinning the stated roles of two of DC’s metadata elements, rights and creator. Based on that examination, the paper considers the limitations of DC for appropriately documenting Indigenous traditional knowledge (TK). Introduction of the TK labels and their implementation are put forward as an alternative method to such limitations in metadata standards.FindingsThe analysis of the rights and creator elements revealed that DC’s universality and supposed neutrality threaten the rightful attribution, specificity and dynamism of TK, undermining Indigenous data sovereignty. The paper advocates for alternative descriptive methods grounded within tribal sovereignty values while recognizing the difficulties of dealing with issues of interoperability by means of metadata standards given potentially innate tendencies to customization within communities.Originality/valueThis is the first paper to directly examine the implications of DC’s rights and creator elements for documenting TK. The paper identifies ethical practices and culturally appropriate tools that unsettle the universality claims of metadata standards. By introducing the TK labels, the paper contributes to the efforts of Indigenous communities to regain control and ownership of their cultural and intellectual property.

Journal

Journal of DocumentationEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 21, 2019

Keywords: Traditional knowledge; Dublin Core; Metadata standards; Indigenous communities; Indigenous data sovereignty; TK labels; Universality

References