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Music heritage archival ethics: issues in repatriation, research, community education and revitalization

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International Library of African Music
Presentation type: 
spoken paper
8 October Wednesday
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CFB Auditorium

This paper addresses ethics in dissemination and return of holdings of field recordings for a music heritage archive and research institute such as the International Library of African Music. It probes issues of archival responsibility beyond preservation, research and on-line access and dissemination in contemporary Africa. Challenges presented by the ‘ILAM Music Heritage Project, SA’ with its aim to disseminate ILAM’s holdings through publication of two music education textbooks for use in schools as a method of returning archived music heritage and enabling education in African music are discussed in relation to the reality of how African music, due to effects of the colonial encounter and subsequent saturation of mass-media, has been devalued among younger generations of black South Africans. Can revitalization of interest in African music be accomplished through effective repatriation of field recordings? This paper reports on ILAM’s most recent initiative to bring together several imperatives in the ethics of music archiving: re-study of music performance in communities where its founder, Hugh Tracey, made field recordings, repatriation of the original field recordings and revitalization through community education.