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Cultural sites as living archives among the Bagisu of Uganda

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University of Stellenbosch
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This paper presents cultural sites as communal music ‘archives’. I call upon academicians and practitioners in music archiving to consider grooves, playgrounds, confluences of rivers and other places where communities perform rituals and other social activities as ‘stores’ where societies safeguard materials of enduring value. Moreover, these spots are valuable ‘materials’ in themselves and due to their significance, communities have always safeguarded them. Yet, while defining an ‘archive’, reference is either made to places inside a building or the material brought to such ‘in-house’ centres. As such, there is need to understand that physical places ‘out there’ have always represented archival materials or stood out as ‘centres’ where public items are ‘deposited’, ‘documented’ and ‘kept’. My work is part of an ongoing ethnographic study among the Bagisu (eastern Uganda) to establish people’s indigenous archival practices as part of my PhD studies. Part of the results has revealed that Namasho and Bumutoto cultural sites are actually living archives in this community and preserving these places directly or indirectly translates into archiving the oral materials performed there.
Key words: Archive, living archive, oral materials, posterity, performing archiving and ritual performances.