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Accepted Paper:

Beyond the written and the visual colonial sources. Listening to African colonial museum sound collections recorded in the 50s and 60s in Angola.  
Cristina Sá Valentim (Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper discusses African museum sound collections recorded in rural areas of Angola in the 50s and 60s under Portuguese colonial rule. This colonial heritage is still largely unknown inside and outside museums and has not yet been studied by decolonial and critical anthropological approaches.

Paper Abstract:

African colonial museum sound collections continue to be neglected in favor of other types of archival sources. Sound is still not really seen as a historical document equivalent to written text, photography or film. This paper seeks to overcome these limitations and methodological bias, while proposing a critical anthropological approach to African colonial museum sound collections produced by European scientific anthropological missions in overseas territories. To decolonize these collections, we need to consider the performative, epistemological, ontological, and political dimensions of sound recordings. There is an urgent need to render visible the subaltern African agencies captured in these recordings, including the plural modalities of contestation, the entangled nature of colonized and colonizer identities, and the oral memories and narratives evoked by African subjects when exposed to the recordings. This paper shares ongoing investigation from my research project on African museum sound collections recorded in the 50s and 60s in different rural territories of Angola under Portuguese colonial rule. This project is based on critical ‘thick listening’ to these recordings of African speech, language, tales, and songs, combining anthropology with history and postcolonial studies through multisited archival and collaborative fieldwork research, in Angola and Portugal. Drawing on decolonial research methodologies, this approach responds to the need to include the voices, memories and knowledge about these museum sound collections that were produced in colonial contexts of multifaceted violence. The aim is to render more visible the complexities of colonial power relations and contribute to a sense of cognitive justice and historical reparation.

Panel OP071
Doing provenance research otherwise. From undoing colonial epistemologies to pluralising knowledge with museum collections
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -