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A collaborative approach to revitalisation and the repatriation of isiXhosa music recordings archived at the International Library of African Music (ILAM) in South Africa
Ethnomusicology Forum  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-06-21, DOI: 10.1080/17411912.2021.1938625
Elijah Madiba


This report examines the collaborative implications in the revitalisation of indigenous music within a contemporary South African setting. In 2012 ILAM commenced with repatriating Hugh Tracey recordings to communities and the families of performers he had recorded. The main reason for repatriation was to follow the ethical turn adopted by museums and archives across the globe since the early 2000s. As a member of staff at Rhodes University, I was part of this project. However, instead of only returning the recordings to the families of the musicians I decided to also include musicians from the places where the music originated. Part of this decision stems from my conviction that musical sustainability has to be built into the repatriation process, and that archival works should not simply be accessed and listened to, but also re-incorporated into living, contemporary cultures of the community where the ownership is rooted. A more engaged approach to decolonising an archive can be found in addressing issues of agency in regard to the (re)claiming of symbolic and physical voice (or musical sound), in the (re)assertion of living and ongoing ownership (including that of the creative variety) in the archived recordings.