REPATRIATING THE ALAN LOMAX CARIBBEAN MUSIC MATERIALS: AN INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION
Columbia College Chicago (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:This paper will discuss a research dissemination project that is international in its scope and results from an innovative partnership between two U.S.-based research entities—the Alan Lomax Archive/Association for Cultural Equity and the Center for Black Music Research of Columbia College—in collaboration with repositories that are located throughout the Caribbean region of the world. The project is based on research collected by Alan Lomax, noted folklorist and cultural anthropologist who devoted his life’s work to the documentation of music and cultural traditions across the world. Almost fifty years ago, in 1962, Lomax traveled to the Eastern Caribbean to conduct research into folk music and dance traditions as they were practiced on twelve different islands. This work resulted in a collection of field recordings and photographs of music and dance that document a broad range of cultural activities as they existed in that time and space. Today, efforts are being made, through a specially-designed dissemination project, to return digital copies of these materials to the locations from whence they were collected. The efforts reflect the current trend towards repatriation of cultural materials, i.e., the dissemination of research and the return of documented materials to the cultures and the people whose legacies they represent. The project is one that is inherently international in its reach as it connects local cultural repositories and organizations in the Caribbean with U.S.-based organizations who share similar goals.
Repatriation of cultural materials is a concept that has been previously addressed in the context of cultures such as American Indian or Native American traditions, as well as Aboriginal cultural materials of Australia and New Zealand. While in the area of Caribbean music, repatriation is a relatively recent topic of discussion, it represents a trend that is particularly apropos to the region due to the existence of significant bodies of field research recordings of Caribbean music that were made by North American and British researchers and that have been held for long periods of time in archives and libraries outside of the Caribbean. Because most of these resources have not been available for use by scholars or researchers in the Caribbean, the concept of repatriating these materials to archives in the Caribbean is viewed as one of great significance to the people of the region.
This paper will describe the repatriation and dissemination project that began in 2005 and is the first and only repatriation project of its type and scope to be implemented in the Caribbean. A discussion will be presented of the concepts of cultural equity and cultural feedback, the two philosophical foundations that ground the work of Alan Lomax and the Association for Cultural Equity. Three dissemination projects that have been completed will be described, projects that focus on the islands of Nevis/St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and Guadeloupe. The presentation will summarize the strategy to implement collaborative dissemination projects between Caribbean and United States archives and the experiences that resulted from these efforts.
Keywords: innovation, technology, research projects.