"Decolonizing the Ethnomusicological Archive" with Aaron A. Fox (Columbia University)

Event Date: 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 -
3:30pm to 4:45pm

Event Location: 

  • Special Research Collections (UCSB Library)

Event Price: 

Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

Event Contact: 

Adriane Hill
Marketing and Communications Manager
UC Santa Barbara Department of Music
(805) 893-3230
Aaron Fox working through archival recordings with the late Iñupiaq elder and music expert Warren Matumeak
Aaron Fox working through archival recordings with the late Iñupiaq elder and music expert Warren Matumeak 
 
Aaron A. Fox (Columbia University) will present "Decolonizing the Ethnomusicological Archive" on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 from 3:30-4:45 p.m. in the Special Research Collections (UCSB Library). This event is the third in the CISM in the Archive series. CISM in the Archive is an event series presented by the UCSB Library and the UCSB Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Music (CISM). Each year, a music scholar is invited into UCSB Library’s Special Research Collections to explore historic sound collections and offer a public talk incorporating research and recordings. For more information, please visit www.library.ucsb.edu/events-exhibitions/decolonizing-ethnomusicological-archive
 
Abstract
 
In this paper I will offer a broad view of “repatriation” and “recovery” projects undertaken in recent years by activists and ethnomusicologists working with archives of recorded sound. Even when such work is focused on applied goals in the present, the turn toward repatriation suggests historical critique of ethnomusicology’s longstanding interdependence with militarism and colonialism I connect the history of recording and “collecting" Native American music in the early 20th century to the later Cold War context in which contemporary ethnographic ethnomusicology emerged in its current institutionalized form -- in part through a reification of the earlier 20th century archive as ahistorical cultural data,  I interrogate the view of sound “archives” (and the work they have done to discipline our understanding of “music”) as sites of memory and scholarship in order to stress their importance as sites of domination and resistance, suggesting  a phenomenology of the "archival recording" that assumes a history of hegemonic mediation. I advance a specific critique of “repatriation” discourse in ethnomusicology as an ethically fraught domain, however necessary. The paper is based on 12 years of work “repatriating” recordings from the Laura Boulton Collection at Columbia University. 
 
Bio
 
Aaron A. Fox is Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University. In recent years Fox has focused on issues of cultural and intellectual property and the repatriation of Native American cultural resources, as part of a broader interest in cultural survival and sustainability and music-centered community activism. His current project entails work with several Indigenous communities to return and recover recordings held by Columbia University’s Center for Ethnomusicology, including collaborative work with numerous Indigenous scholar/activists. Fox's publications on this topic include “The Archive of the Archive” in The Routledge Companion to Cultural Property (2017) and “Repatriation as Re-Animation Through Reciprocity” in The Cambridge History of World Music: Vol. 1 (North America). His book, Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Culture, was published by Duke University Press in 2004.
Aaron Fox working through archival recordings with the late Iñupiaq elder and music expert Warren Matumeak