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Vol. 12 No. 2 (2023): Access to Waxes – The Collections from the Arab World of the Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Digitization and Open Access Publication

Interrogating "Access to Waxes" – Introductory Remarks on the Collections from the Arab World of the Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv

  • Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco


This paper contextualizes the “Access to Waxes” workshop and publications within the broader context of the ongoing debates in ethnomusicology and related disciplines about the ethics and politics of historical sound recordings, archives, acoustic memory, cultural rights, intellectual property, musical repatriation, and access.  Selected initiatives on the topic spearheaded by the two major scholarly societies focusing on the transdisciplinary study of music, the ICTMD and the Society for Ethnomusicology, are referred to. The contribution also critically evaluates the categorization and labeling of music in archives (like the term “Arab/Arabic music”) and emphasizes the need for a critical study of historical sound recordings like the collections of the Berlin Phonogrammarchiv. This would involve collaboration with source communities and local institutions ideally leading to the development of shared research practices and creating the conditions to access, revitalize, and sustain their musical heritage.