Absent Presences in the Colonial Archive

Dealing with the Berlin Sound Archive's Acoustic Legacies

Irene Hilden

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The colonial past through objects of sound

The Berlin Sound Archive (Lautarchiv) consists of an extensive collection of sound recordings, compiled for scientific purposes in the first half of the 20th century. Recorded on shellac are stories and songs, personal testimonies and poems, glossaries and numbers. This book engages with the archive by consistently focusing on the colonial conditions under which the recordings were produced.

With a firm commitment to postcolonial scholarship, Absent Presences in the Colonial Archive is a historical ethnography of a metropolitan institution that participated in the production and preservation by colonial structures of power and knowledge. The book examines sound objects and listening practices that render the coloniality of knowledge fragile and inconsistent, revealing the absent presences of colonial subjects who are given little or no place in established national narratives and collective memories.

Ebook available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Format: Monograph - free ebook - ePUB

340 pages

b&w images

ISBN: 9789461664709

Publication: October 17, 2022

Languages: English

A richly-detailed and warmly-written ethnography of listening, this book is poised to be a leader in the fields of archival, curatorial and museum studies, and similarly stands out as a uniquely-well blended contribution to sound ethnography, sound studies, ethnomusicology, anthropology and digital humanities.
Noel Lobley, University of Virginia