Archiving Orality and Connecting with Communities: World Oral Literature Project 2010 Workshop

10 December 2010 - 11 December 2010

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge


Dr Mark Turin and Imogen Gunn (World Oral Literature Project, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge)



This workshop explores key issues around the dissemination of oral literature through traditional and digital media. Funding agencies, including our own Supplemental Grants Programme, now encourage fieldworkers to return copies of their work to source communities, in addition to requiring researchers to deposit their collections in institutional repositories. But thanks to ever greater digital connectivity, wider internet access and affordable multimedia recording technologies, the locus of dissemination and engagement has grown beyond that of researcher and research subject to include a diverse constituency of global users, such as migrant workers, indigenous scholars, policymakers and journalists, to name but a few.

Building on discussions around orality and textuality, presenters will discuss some of the following issues:

·      What kinds of political repercussions may result from studying marginalized languages or from working with the custodians of endangered oral traditions?

·      How can online tools help ensure responsible access to sensitive cultural materials?

·      Who should control decisions over how digitized heritage material is to be accessed, curated and understood?

·      How can researchers remain true to the fluidity of performance over time and avoid fossilization in the creation of their digital documents?

·      When archives become primary sites for interaction and discussion rather than static repositories of heritage data, how do relationships between collections and their users change?

We welcome ethnographers, field linguists, community activists, curators, archivists, librarians and our project's own grantees to exchange ideas at this second workshop.

Programme and Registration

Please use the links at the right hand side of the page to view the provisional programme and to book online.  The standard fee is £36 with a reduced fee of £18 for students (includes lunch and refreshments).  The deadline for booking is Monday 6 December 2010. 

The workshop convenors are grateful to CRASSH, the Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit (MIASU) and the Department of Social Anthropology for providing logistical and financial support, and for the cooperation of the new NWO Multimedia Research and Documentation of African Oral Genres network.






Administrative assistance: Michelle Maciejewska (CRASSH)

Provisional Programme

Location : CRASSH Date : 10-11 December 2010

Panel One: Archives and Access

Thomas Widlok (Radboud University Nijmegen)
Digital Archiving of Spoken Language: Changing Data Formats and Continuing Access Problems

David Nathan (School of Oriental and African Studies)
Archive Access and Accessibility: A Progress Report on Social Networking at Work

Judith Aston and Paul Matthews (University of West England)
Multiple Audiences and Co-Curation: Linking an Ethnographic Archive to Contemporary Contexts

Chair: Mark Turin

Panel Two: African Oral Genres

Daniela Merolla (Leiden University)
Multimedia Research and Documentation of African Oral Genres: Reflections on Partnership 

Jan Jansen (Leiden University)
Kumabali Ye Horon Di' (The Person Who Doesn't Speak is Free): On the Social Construction of Copy Rights      

Chair:  Roger Blench (Kay Williamson Educational Fund)

Friday 10 December


9.00 - 9.30


9.30 - 9.45

Welcome and Introduction
Mark Turin

9.45 -11.30


11.30 - 12.00

Tea/coffee break

12.00 - 13.00

Keynote Address


John Miles Foley (University of Missouri)
Oral  Tradition and the Internet

Introduction: Alan Macfarlane (University of Cambridge)

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.15




15.15- 15.45

Tea/coffee Break

15.45 - 17.00

Panel Three: Revitalisation and Renewal

Margaret Field (San Diego State University)
Recording Oral Tradition in American Indian Communities: Some Basic Considerations

John Shaw  and Tiber Falzett (University of Edinburgh)  
Stòras a’ Bhaile: digital archives and community-based language renewal in the Cape Breton Gàidhealtachd

Chair: Peter Austin (SOAS)

17.00 - 17.30

General discussion and Logistics

Chair: Mark Turin

17.30 - 19.00

Reception at CRASSH (open to all)


Dinner at St Catharine's College (for those who have pre-booked)


Saturday 11 December


9.15 -11.00

Panel Four: The State and the Politics of Ownership

Roger Blench (Kay Williamson Educational Foundation)
Cultural Bureaucracy and the Manufacture of Ifugao Oral Literature

Jorge Gomez Rendon (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
New Approaches to Orality: The Ecuadorian Experience

Rahile Dawut (Xinjiang University)
Documenting the Epic Oral Narratives of Uyghur in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China    

Chair: Stephen Hugh-Jones (University of Cambridge)

11.00 - 11.30

Tea/coffee Break

11.30 - 12.45

Panel Five: Collaborations and Partnerships

K Inyani Simala (Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology)
Archiving Nganyi Weatherlore and Connecting with Modern Science of Rain Prediction: Challenges and Prospects 

Uranchimeg Ujeed (University of Cambridge)

Disappearing Horchin Mongolian Narrative Songs

Chair: Anita Herle (University of Cambridge)

13.00 - 13.45


13.45 - 15.00

Panel Six: World Oral Literature Project Grantees

Madan Meena (Freelance Researcher)
From Shrine to Stage: the challenges of archiving ritualistic performances with reference to the Tejaji Ballad of Rajasthan

Sachindev P.S. (Mudugar-Kurumbar Research Centre)
Challenges of Fieldwork and Documentation: A Case Study of Mudugar-Kurumbar Research Centre, Attappady                       

Ha Minzong (Charles University)
Digital Documentation of the China Mongghul Ha Clan Oral History

Chair: John Miles Foley 

15.00 - 15.30

Tea/coffee break

15.30 - 17.15

Panel Seven: Oral Performance and Patrimony

Carole Pegg (University of Cambridge)
Musical Improvisations and Tradition in 'Ak Jang' Rituals in the Hidden Mountain Temples of Central Altai

Henri Aalders (Voices of Africa Media Foundation)
Recording  Verbal Art Performance with Handheld Equipment: the Preparatory Phase in Africa

Elizabeth Wickett (Independent Researcher)
Patronage, Commodification and the Dissemination of Performance Art: The Shared Benefits of Web Archiving

Chair: Sara Shneiderman (University of Cambridge)

17.15 - 18.00

Summation and Good-byes

Chair: Stephen Hugh-Jones

18.00 - 19.15

CRASSH Reception (open to all)