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Tuesday, October 1 • 9:00am - 9:30am
The International Library of African Music (ILAM) and its relationship with a decolonial imaginary in present day South Africa

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In the past few years the demands for a decolonised approach to the development and archiving of knowledge has occupied the minds and rhetoric of scholars through students through consumers of everyday goods. This demand coincides with the widespread criticisms of ILAM and its founder, Hugh Tracey, who is charged with being complicit with the undertakings of colonialism and later, apartheid. While these criticisms have value, they fail to recognise other aspects to Hugh Tracey’s work and they fail to offer an alternative means of moving forward. In this paper I argue that a different approach to the HT holdings, among the many other collections, offers a solution to the question of how the archive could become more relevant to its context. In this context the prerogatives for ILAM are clear. ILAM is situated in one of the least developed provinces of South Africa. The question was in how ILAM was going to reimagine ideas of the archive, knowledge, access and music. How could a music archive be relevant to the context within which it finds itself, particularly if that context is riddled with the legacy of racial and class oppression, and the elitism attached to the ideas of 'knowledge' and the practice of music? What would be the most ethical model of a music archive in this context? In this presentation, I discuss the various attempts, from digital return to community participation, currently unfolding at ILAM. Through practice and rhetoric and critical reflection, I conclude that ILAM is produced as a site with radical possibilities for the music archive.

Speakers
avatar for Lee Watkins

Lee Watkins

Director of the International Library of African Music, Rhodes University, South Africa
Lee Watkins has been the Director of the International Library of African Music in South Africa since 2016. Before then he served as a senior lecturer in Ethnomusicology and as Head of Department in the Department of Music at Rhodes University. His interests include the applied studies... Read More →


Tuesday October 1, 2019 9:00am - 9:30am
BenGLab 1

Attendees (14)