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Report on Pilot Project in Re-Study and Repatriation of ILAM Hugh Tracey Field Recordings

Title (author1): 
First names (author1): 
Surname (author 1): 
International Library of African Music
Other authors: 
Lee Watkins
Presentation type: 
spoken paper
26 Sept Monday
Start time: 
LoC Madison Building: West Dining Rm.

The ‘Pilot Project in Re-Study and Repatriation of the International Library of African Music (ILAM) Hugh Tracey Field Recordings’ was launched 27 July – 14 August 2014 with re-study and repatriation (via digital return) of Hugh Tracey’s historical recordings made in 1950 and 1952 of Gogo and Zanzibari music in Tanzania, and Kipsigi and Luo music in Kenya. Follow up re-study and return of recordings in Zanzibar was done in June 2015. With support of an IASA research grant, re-study and return of Hugh Tracey’s 1950 and 1952 recordings from Mombasa and Malindi was carried out 20-29 February 2016. This paper outlines the process involved in launching the Pilot Project and the logistical issues, challenges and rewards it has brought. Digital return of the various recordings was immensely appreciated by the communities, descendants of musicians, several Kenyan musicians on the original recordings still living in 2014, schools, government agencies and university music programmes where the recordings were presented. Questions of the effectiveness of the re-study and of repatriation as an ethical mandate for a music heritage AV archive such as ILAM are addressed in an effort to determine if return of historical recordings to their communities of origin creates interest in and performance of the music on the recordings among local musicians and in particular by community youth. I ask, are historical collections of field recordings such as those of Hugh Tracey a crucial tool for preservation and revitalization of music heritage? If so, what is the most effective way to make sure they fulfill this potential?

This paper will be presented by Lee Watkins, in Diane Thram's stead.