Fascinated how a small island can have such vivid and enchanting traditions. Brandon became intrigued with Pacific Island culture from the start.
Brandon Oswald is the Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit organization Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS), which is dedicated to providing help to cultural heritage organizations throughout the Pacific Islands region of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia. Although ICAS was founded in 2008, its structural inspiration stems back to a couple events beginning in the early 2000s: First, in 2002, he was working as a volunteer in various libraries throughout the island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. It was here where he was surprised to learn how the indigenous people are very enthusiastic in preserving their cultural heritage despite the drawbacks of the lack of resources, funding, and archival training methods. Then, in 2006, Brandon was involved with a voluntary group gutting houses in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The salvaging of victims’ personal belongings including archival materials, like photographs and correspondences, prove to be in vain. It was mind numbing to see how easily an individual could lose such important memorabilia during a major catastrophe. The South Pacific island nations are certainly not immune from manmade and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, as earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis, civil unrest, and even volcanoes can pose major problems and compromise significant historical cultural assets.
Brandon received his Master’s Degree in Archives and Records Management from the University of Dundee, Scotland. While attending this program that had a focus on students working in international cultural heritage organizations, he learned that an archive is the story of and about people regardless of who you are or where you live. After graduation, it was his desire to help preserve people’s stories in the very vibrant, faraway and sometimes often forgotten part of the world of the Pacific Islands. Brandon became an active member of the Pacific Regional Branch International Council on Archives (PARBICA), and participated in the every PARBICA conference since 2009. He has found these meetings to be an informative and excellent source of learning the issues pertaining to Pacific Islands’ archives, as well as it is a place to meet new and old colleagues from the region. Brandon also serves on the International Council of Archives (ICA) Expert Group on Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness. Two of the major goals of this group are to coordinate initiatives and exchange good practices in the field of emergency management and disaster preparedness, and to facilitate professional mobilization and archival solidarity when disaster strikes.
Brandon resides in Southern California with his wife and daughter. His first book, Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas: The Extraordinary Life of Robert Dean Frisbie, was inspired by his volunteer service in the Cook Islands. It examines the adventurous life of American author Robert Dean Frisbie who wanted to find the most isolated island to write his “great” novel. Brandon’s second book, The Darklands: A Melanesian Experience, is an exploration of the intriguing and mysterious Melanesian culture, and is based on his experiences while working throughout region.
“They interacted with Nature to influence their circumstances and live in harmony. In fact, their lives seemed to be a testament to the boundless success that comes from community support, stress-free living and powerful faith.”