This is one news I am incredibly excited to share. The European Joint Project Initiative in Cultural Heritage awarded us a three-year grant for the transcontinental project, Decolonizing Southeast Asian Sound Archives (DeCoSEAS)!
When I began my first postdoctoral journey as a postmigrant Filipino-Dutch scholar working on Sonic Entanglements, I discovered a trove of Southeast Asian sound recordings in archives in Europe. In the last four years of the project (ten if I count my PhD work), I still struggle with systemic Eurocentrism/neo-colonialism in academic and cultural institutions. In my work, I have barely scratched the surface of this issue, but there are three key ideas that I stand for: Access to the cultural materials is the first tiny step to decolonizing the archives and the history of sound and music. The paradigmatic shift towards true decolonization begins with the transfer of Agency in the access and use of these materials to the stakeholders of heritage, and therefore, towards the reshaping of the Discourse on the topic from the community’s perspective. This is what we intend to address with DeCoSEAS. By collaborating with institutions and communities in the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, and Malaysia (and still expanding), as well as consortium partners in former colonial metropolises: Amsterdam, London, and Paris– we want to reexamine the flows of knowledge productions and conversations on cultural heritage. We aim to facilitate the discussion between different stakeholders in the Global South, support Southeast Asian stakeholders’ agenda towards the claim and reframing of colonial archives, and open the discussion between former colonial capitals in a transregional collaborative effort to decolonize.
I also learned that to truly decolonize, we have to shift academic practice towards cooperation and collaboration. Therefore, I am thrilled to give a shout out to Barbara Titus with whom I am co-project leader for this project. Our consortium is composed of academic partners, Cristina Juan (University of London-SOAS), Dana Rappoport (Centre Asie du Sud-Est (CASE) – CNRS, EHESS, INALCO) and Joséphine Simonnot (CNRS/PRISM), and of different cultural heritage institutions and stakeholders.
This project will be the collaborative work of:
Laon-Laon Asian Music Archives Network and UP Center for Ethnomusicology (UPCE)
Citra Research Center – Yogyakarta Indonesia
Indonesian Oral Tradition Association – Jakarta Indonesia (ATL)
Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) Laos
Archives of Traditional Music in Laos (ATML)- National Library of Laos
Malaysian Audio-Visual Archives – Malaysia
Institute of Resource Governance and Social Change (IRGSC) – Kupang Indonesia
BBC Archive Trust
Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (NISV)
Association Française d’Archives Sonores (AFAS)
SOAS University of London
Centre Asie du Sud-Est – CASE (CNRS-EHESS-INALCO), Paris
Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis – University of Amsterdam
We are looking forward to sharing with you our plans and upcoming events on our soon-to-be-launched project website. In the meantime, please join us in raising a glass to this good news! You can also read more about the project here.