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Dr Lizabe Lambrechts

Home country: South Africa

Year of enrolment: 2010

Graduation date: December 2012

Department: Music

Supervisor: Prof Stephanus Muller

Dissertation title: Ethnography and the archive: Power and politics in five South African music archives




This study addresses issues concerning power and politics in five music archives in South Africa. It has a three-fold approach. First, it provides an overview of archival theory as it has developed since the French Revolution in 1789. It follows the trajectory of changing archival principles such as appraisal and provenance and provides an oversight into the changing understanding of 'the archive' as an impartial custodian of the Truth, to its conceptualisation in the Humanities as a concept deeply rooted in discourses around power, justice and knowledge production. Interrogating the unfolding concept of the archive throws into relief its current envisioned function within a post-Apartheid South Africa. Secondly, this dissertation explores five music archives in South Africa to investigate the level to which archival theory is engaged with and practiced in music archives. The archives in question are the International Library of African Music (ILAM), the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Radio and Sound Archive, the Gallo Record Archive, the Hidden Years Music Archive (HYMA) and the Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS). This interrogation serves to illustrate how music archives take part in or subvert the power mechanisms inherent in archival practice. As such, this dissertation is situated within a body of scholarship that seeks to subvert the still prevailing consideration of the music archive as a neutral repository. Third, it investigates how a critical reading of music archives within a consideration of archival theory can add to our understanding of the practical realities of archives that firmly ground them as objects of power.

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Click here to access Dr Lizabe Lambrechts' research outputs ​​