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Aaron Fox, “Ways of Hearing: Decolonizing the Ethnomusicological Archive”


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UC Davis, An Open Digital Global South

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Aaron Fox, “Ways of Hearing: Decolonizing the Ethnomusicological Archive”

  1. 1. Decolonizing Listening Practice in the Ethnomusicological Archive An Open Digital South – Risks and Rewards University of California, Davis, May 24-25, 2017 Aaron A. Fox Center for Ethnomusicology Columbia University New York, NY Inquiries always welcome
  2. 2. Acknowledging and Thanking: The Patwin People on Whose Lands We Meet The US National Science Foundation Columbia University Institutions, elders, and collaborators from the Iñupiaq, Hopi, Diné, Ts’msyen Communities Chie Sakakibara (Oberlin College); Trevor Reed (Columbia University): Robin Gray (UC Santa Cruz) The conference organizers for inviting me, and you for listening.
  3. 3. In memory of Myrtle Akootchook, lead dancer, The Barrow Dancers 1936-2017
  4. 4. Laura C. Boulton 1899-1980 - Traveled the world collecting music from the early 1930s through the 1960s - Made significant collections of Native American and other indigenous musics, including extensive recordings of Navajo (1933, 1940) and Inuit (“Eskimo”) songs (1942, 1946) -- Published numerous commercial recordings and a fascinating 1968 autobiography (The Music Hunter), but her career remains remarkably undocumented - curated her own collection at Columbia Univ. from 1965-1973 - Sold her collection to the University (exact contents of sale disputed); sale not finalized until early 1970s, with many issues of ownership and rights never resolved - Her field recording practice had a “drive by” character, and she always worked through interpreters and with the support (and often protection) of powerful colonial or military figures - She was reasonably careful to record the names of singers, though often incorrectly transcribed; she did work with performers to translate songs and gather contextual information, reports being close to some consultants
  5. 5. Allison Akootchook Warden (Aku-Matu), Iñupiaq Performance Artist and Rapper, Anchorage and Kaktovic, Alaska. Performing at “Native Sounds, North and South,” Oct. 1, 2010, New York City
  6. 6. Warren Matumeak, elder and renowned expert on Iñupiaq music and dance, signs a drum for an admirer, 2008.
  7. 7. Aaron with Mae Ahgeak’s kindergarten Iñupiaq language immersion class.
  8. 8. Bertha and Mary Lou Leavitt, elders, identifying figures in photographs
  9. 9. “…. Collecting institutions’ core commitment to access predicated upon openness to the public severely limits the possibility of seeing indigenous claims as alternative types of openness (access differently conceived). Oftentimes in these situations, indigenous systems of information management are defined as “cultural values” or “tradition.” In either case, while collecting institutions may be sympathetic to these “concerns,” they do not see them in the same semantic light as the assumed universal claims on which their assertions of a uniform typology for access are based. Kimberly Christen “Opening Archives: Respectful Repatriation” The American Archivist 74 (Spring/Summer 2011)
  10. 10. John Berger, Ways of Seeing, (1972 Penguin Books)
  11. 11. Dr. Robin R. R. Gray Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow History University of California, Santa Cruz
  12. 12. • Aaron Fox’s recent papers (write for copies): • 2017 “The Archive of the Archive: The Secret History of the Laura Boulton Collection.” The Routledge Cultural Property Reader, Jane Anderson and Haidy Geismar, editors. • 2014 “Repatriation as Re-Animation Through Reciprocity.” The Cambridge History of World Music: Vol. 1 (North America), P. Bohlman, ed., Cambridge University Press
  13. 13. Century of Progress Exposition 1933 – “Indian Village”
  14. 14. QUYANAQPAK! Thank You Very Much For Listening! Write to with any inquiries!