D igital Repository of Endangered and Affected Manuscripts in Southeast Asia (DREAMSEA) is a Programme that strives to preserve the content of manuscripts in the entire region of Southeast Asia. The Programme is carried out by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta State Islamic University (UIN) Jakarta, Indonesia, in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of Manuscripts Culture (CSMC), University of Hamburg, Germany. The Programme is supported by Arcadia, a philanthropic institution based in London, England. The programme lasts for up till five years (2017-2022) and takes place throughout the year on a full-time basis.
DREAMSEA will preserve the manuscripts throughout Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia is a region with a high rate of cultural diversity. Since this Programme wants to safeguard this diversity, it will accommodate manuscripts written in any script and field of science as long as the manuscripts originate from the region of Southeast Asia.
The basic principle in the DREAMSEA Programme is to preserve Southeast Asian manuscripts that are under threat to be damaged or lost (endangered), whose condition already may have been negatively influenced by natural or socio-political circumstances in Southeast Asia (affected). These conditions of endangeredness and affectedness may be used to define criteria for selecting the manuscripts to be digitised:
Uniqueness of the Manuscripts
This deals with the uniqueness of the content of the manuscripts when compared to the texts in manuscripts located elsewhere. This principle also is of importance with regards to codicological aspects, such as the age of copying or writing, the place of copying, the presenter or financer of the making of the manuscript, and other aspects that make the manuscript stand out among other manuscripts. Moreover, a unique copy of a text if preserved outside certain standard preservation conditions is in itself endangered as it can be lost or damaged at any time through fire, flooding, theft, misfiling, and many other calamities.
Significance of Text
A manuscript may contain a copy of a text that may be highly significant for a certain community, minority group, professional association and/or other organisations of people. The significance makes the text and the manuscript a central object of the group’s identity and therefore has a higher than normal importance for the cultural heritage to be preserved of this group.
More often than not manuscripts are produced and kept by minority groups outside the centre of authority in the polity they live in. The extent of their cultural endangered/affectedness may be ‘measured’ by looking into how many people are actively preserving the cultural heritage, how big is the group in total, is there pressure from the central or local government, or from local pressure groups, are the people anxious about attacks and or violation of their rights by others, especially because of their traditional belief system, are there any youth groups that may take over from the old custodians of the heritage, and several other elements that will indicate to what extent the group’s culture is already affected by majority groups and/or authorities.
An important set of criteria concerns the physical condition of the manuscripts, the historical value of the collection, and the urgency of their preservation. This criteria concerns the actual condition of the manuscripts, in what state they are, whether they show traces of neglect and mishandling that already are affecting them in the form of insect and rodent traces, tattered or dilapidated state of the manuscript, dirty and traces of damage by water, fire or outside objects, etc. Also the conditions for storage of the manuscripts is extremely important and it needs to be assessed whether the storage can be guaranteed in the future.
Number of Manuscripts
We do not set a particular limitation on the number of manuscripts to be digitised in a collection, as long as above mentioned criteria can be fulfilled.