SOAS University of London

SOAS receives funding to help archive and promote oral culture in London

12 February 2014

The Song Collectors Collective (SCC) and the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) at SOAS, University of London have received £15,000 funding from Creative Works London Voucher Scheme for Archives to work collaboratively in the domains of archiving, preservation and publishing of oral cultural heritage material and engaging in research with community fieldwork practitioners.    

The ELAR has been publishing and preserving endangered language and oral culture documentation materials from all over the world since 2005. Based at SOAS, University of London and part of the Endangered Languages Project (HRELP), ELAR provides a safe, trusted long-term repository for collections and provide managed access to users, researchers and the speaker communities.

The SCC is an innovative archive of recordings of Romany Gypsies, Irish Travellers and tradition bearers from a growing number of other backgrounds. These recordings include well-known, little-known and even some ‘unknown’ songs and tales, as well as contextual biographical, geographical and historical data.

Their project Song Catchers: archiving and promoting oral culture in London aims to improve practice in these fields and encourage community engagement and creative use of oral heritage material and promote London’s lesser known oral heritages.

One of the methods of enriching the current SCC repository and raising awareness of London’s hidden gems of oral heritage is through urban fieldwork and public outreach events in and around London such as public lectures, concerts, and media and social media publicity. Another is the organising of a research programme involving field-recordists, tradition bearing community members and academic staff and students in London and engaging them in the discussion of issues around recording, publishing and preservation of songs and wider oral culture in an urban environment.

The project will share under-represented cultural material and practical knowledge and expertise to practitioners, student and other documenters and other interested parties. It brings to London the opportunity to learn how to approach and participate in this largely undervalued and underground form of old, rare, oral culture. By preserving and conserving cultural material and then publishing it to London and beyond, the project aims to add cultural currency to the creative economy: raw material to be reinterpreted, learnt from, listened to, and studied through a living archive.

The Song Catchers project is looking for aspiring song collectors to participate in our project with SOAS - deadline has been extended to the 17 February 2014. Find out more.