DeCoSEAS project leaders meLê yamomo and Barbara Titus published a joint article about the complexities of curating colonial sound archives with DeCoSEAS concerns forming the core of the article. The article was published in a themed issue of the world of music (new series), entitled Postcolonial Sound Archives: Challenges and Potentials, edited by Rasika Ajotikar.
This double-authored article addresses colonial entanglements in the scholarly construction, employment and investigation of sound archives with particular attention for the aural encounters that such recorded bodies of knowledge engender. Outlining their academic, epistemic and personal positionalities, meLê yamomo and Barbara Titus engage in a written dialogue that foregrounds the (equally colonially informed) entanglements of their collective and individual thought during their ongoing collaboration in investigating sound archives. Titus provides a funnel for the foregrounding of audible colonial entanglements by analysing the recordings of a Timorese natoni ritual in the early 20th century, by missionary Pieter Middelkoop. These recordings ended up in the Jaap Kunst Collection, now located at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, under Titus’s curation. In her analysis, Titus attempts to reach beyond the agencies of Middelkoop, Kunst and herself as a curator in the formation of sound archival knowledge. This attempt succeeds only to a very limited extent. yamomo dwells on the wider epistemological implications of such attempts by addressing his own archival research as well as the Sonic Entanglements Tour he organised with scholars from Southeast Asia along formative colonial sound archives in Europe in 2019.