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Thursday, September 21 • 11:30 - 12:00
Postcolonial issues for colonial music archives: the Hugh Tracey Collection and 21st century archival ethics

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Hugh Tracey is well-known for his sizable collection of musical sound recorded in sub-Saharan Africa over four decades (1930s-70s). Archived at the International Library of African Music (ILAM), which he founded in 1954, these recordings and the documentation he created have served scholarship of African music in multiple ways. Two recent PhD studies of his Collection (Lobley, 2010) and of the textual traces he left at ILAM (Coetzee, 2014) demonstrate the stark contrasts in his legacy. Lobley assesses the value of Tracey’s historical recordings to ethnomusicology at large without entering into critique of his colonial agenda while Coetzee applies postcolonial whiteness theory to his textual traces to elicit the racism embedded in his colonial attitudes. Evidence from these two theses is presented to provoke consideration of the many-layered aspects of one collector’s contribution to preservation of Africa music for posterity and ethical ramifications now. The paper suggests projects at ILAM designed to disseminate Tracey’s recordings in the public sphere and repatriate them to their communities of origin through digital return as broadly as possible are done to establish an ethic of reciprocity. It argues that giving back colonial archives such as Tracey’s to their communities of origin is mandated by his legacy, and also by the legacy of Ethnomusicology at large.

avatar for Lynn Johnson

Lynn Johnson

e.tv Pty Ltd., e.tv Pty Ltd.
Library systems manager for 10 years at e.tv, South Africa's first independent, free to air, terrestrial television station and home of eNCA, South Africa's first 24 hour broadcast news service. Work with digital asset managements systems that manages news and programme content and... Read More →

avatar for Diane Thram

Diane Thram

Professor Emeritus, International Library of African Music, Rhodes University
I was Director of ILAM for 10 years and became passionate about music heritage archives, digital return of field collections to their communities of origin, issues in archival ethics and the need to de-colonize collections through heritage activism and promotion of music sustain... Read More →

Thursday September 21, 2017 11:30 - 12:00 CEST
Ethnologisches Museum, Room 1 (Auditorium, off the Lower Foyer) Lansstraße 8, Berlin, Germany