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Global Social Responses to Covid-19 Web Archive (Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation)

About the Southeast Asia section

The Southeast Asia section of the Ivy Plus Global Social Responses to Covid-19 Web Archive has been curated by Tristan Hinkel (Berlin State Library=Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin), Claudia Götze-Sam (Berlin State Library=Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin), Joshua Kueh (Library of Congress), Ryan Wolfson-Ford (Library of Congress), and Brandon Miliate (Yale University).

While an effort has been made to cover various parts of Southeast Asia, given the great diversity of ethnicities, languages, and states in the region, it has not been possible to provide comprehensive coverage in the current Ivy Plus collection. Instead, curators have contributed selections related to their areas of expertise. As such, Southeast Asian content in the Ivy Plus collection is strongest when it comes to coverage of the following countries: Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand.

In deciding what to collect, curators kept certain priorities and local conditions in mind. For example, when collecting material on Cambodia, the curator Claudia Götze-Sam (Berlin State Library=Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) was sensitive to the fact that Cambodians have been using various means to deal with the threat of the Covid-19 virus: music, theatre, comedy shows, live shows on Facebook, and videos recorded with smartphones, including comments of people who have made those recordings. She also noted that Cambodians interact with information on the pandemic through a variety of platforms. Besides daily updates in newspapers, TV and radio, social media is playing a major role for the younger generation. Over 9 million of the 15 million people of Cambodia have access to social media.

Taking this into consideration, Götze-Sam focused especially on Youtube sites because an abundance of new ideas, great creativity, and spontaneity of younger people could be found there. The richness of content on display is evident especially in music. Looking at music with new lyrics about Covid-19, the spectrum ranges from Covid-19 rap songs, techno music with rhythmic talking, and modern Khmer songs, to traditional melodies played on old instruments like the two-stringed musical instrument called tro and drums with new lyrics. Artists express their feelings and their worries for example about closing down schools, lack of contact with friends, loneliness, fear of illness, fear of losing one´s job. Advice about washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing are integrated again and again in many lyrics.

In popular genres like comedy shows and Lkhaon Bassak theater, humor is used as a means to deal with the virus. This approach enables people to talk about a huge catastrophe without lapsing into panic or depression. Live shows on Facebook, videos with comments uploaded on personal Facebook sites or on Youtube are further means of coping with Covid-19. Video reports on social media show how villagers deal with the pandemic. In some videos you see that villagers have placed Ting Mong straw dolls—believed to chase away evil spirits—on the fences of their houses to chase away the Coronavirus.

For Myanmar, the curator Tristan Hinkel (Berlin State Library=Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) focused on sites mostly showing information on current events from Myanmar news channels in both the English and Burmese languages. These sites display measures taken by individual activists as well as the government and show how educational information on Covid-19 is spread via print journalism and social media. Blog articles from researchers analyzing certain aspects of the pandemic are also part of this collection.

When considering sites from Laos and Thailand in the collection, researchers should note that the curator—Ryan Wolfson-Ford (Library of Congress)—envisioned the Ivy Plus collection being used in tandem with the Library of Congress Covid-19 collection. Broadly speaking, the curator placed more of an emphasis on collecting civil society sites—those by NGOs, private news agencies, artists, and individual commentators—for the Ivy Plus collection, and chose mainly governmental sites for the Library of Congress Covid-19 collection. As such, researchers should use the Ivy Plus collection in tandem with the Library of Congress Covid-19 collection when it comes to Lao and Thai content. The same applies to content from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore, which was curated by Joshua Kueh (Library of Congress).

The Library of Congress Covid-19 collection is accessible via the following links:

When browsing the Library of Congress Covid-19 collection, researchers should be aware that the Library of Congress has a year-long embargo policy for the sites that it harvests, and hence content is not immediately viewable.  

In addition to the Library of Congress Covid-19 collection, researchers might also wish to explore content in the IIPC Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) collection

From the overview above, it should be apparent that curators of Southeast Asian content for the Ivy Plus collection have taken a varied approach toward building this collection. Hopefully, the explanation about collecting frameworks and priorities will serve to better inform researchers about the content in this collection, and how to use it.

Finally, the Ivy Plus collection is still growing. At present, there are more than 200 Southeast Asian-related sites set to be crawled, and a subset of these sites will be available at the time of launch. Researchers should continue to check the collection as new sites will be added frequently. If you would like to suggest a link for the collection, you can do so by filling out the Google form at this link.