During the era of colonialism and early independence, state agents, foreign researchers and collectors, as well as commercial radio, film and gramophone companies from the Global North engaged in the collection of recorded music, musical instruments, photographs, and other performing art artifacts. These collections were subsequently taken to foreign countries, where they were stored and remain today in varying states of organization and conservation. Many of these have been used as a basis for formulating theories about the musical cultures of the regions from which they originated. Paradoxically, the communities that served as the source of this data often lacked and continue to lack access to these audio-visual recordings. This critical issue has been a primary driving force behind the initiation of the DeCoSEAS project (Decolonizing Southeast Asian Archives), a transnational research endeavor. The project seeks to challenge and transform the processes of heritage curation by focusing on three fundamental principles: enhancing access to sound heritage, empowering stakeholders to take ownership of their own heritage, and fostering a more diverse and inclusive discourse regarding the curation of this heritage. To achieve these objectives, researchers based in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France collaborated with academics, curators, and non-governmental organizations in Southeast Asia. The contributors to this edited volume are individuals affiliated with this extensive network, encompassing academics, NGO workers, and sound artists/enthusiasts with a vested interest in issues pertaining to archives. The ensuing chapters of this volume delve into the aforementioned principles, each focusing on one of the following themes:
Sonic Migrations and Epistemologies
This thematic area encompasses the intricate movements of individuals, sounds, and materials across Southeast Asia and beyond. It also investigates the ways in which knowledge is generated through the manipulation and utilization of materials, as well as the significance of access and curation in this process.
Community Outreach and Engagement
Within this theme, the focus lies on the contemporary utilization of archives in the 21st century, particularly in relation to cultural bearers, communities, and the revitalization of traditional practices. Additionally, the exploration extends to encompass sustainability efforts and outreach projects associated with archival materials.
Geopolitics and Repatriation
This theme examines the construction and development of archives in light of national histories and the legacies of colonialism. Moreover, it delves into ongoing initiatives aimed at repatriation within the context of the contemporary post-colonial and decolonial landscape.
Curating Sonic Heritage
Under this theme, the emphasis is placed on the meticulous curation, preservation, and presentation of sonic archives. The exploration encompasses an analysis of power dynamics, the influence of technologies, the intricacies of documentation, as well as the challenges surrounding data management and funding mechanisms.
Creation and Re-creation
This theme looks at the various ways present day artists, composers and other creatives have used these collections as basis for their work. It probes into notions such as post-colonial identity, ownership, and appropriation as manifested in contemporary expressions.
Each candidate should submit:
Abstract: 250-400 words
Short Bio: 150-200 words outlining education, publications, and professional experience.
Proposed milestones for the project:
July 31 – Abstracts due
October 31 – Chapter drafts due
November – December – Volume editors to review chapter submissions
January – April (2024) – Final Reviews
May (2024) – Submission of Completed Manuscript to the Publisher
The chapters shall be strictly 5000 – 7000 words.
We look forward to your submissions,
Verne de la Peña & Mayco A. Santaella
Convenors and Co-Editors