Highlights from the Ethnomusicology Archive: the Robert Kauffman Collection

Robert Kauffman did his fieldwork in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) in 1960-1962.  His dissertation is entitled "Multi-Part Relationships in the Shona Music of Rhodesia" and he graduated UCLA in 1971.  He was a professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Washington and the University of Pittsburgh.  He is now retired.

I mention this collection because--at the behest of Professor Kauffman--the Ethnomusicology Archive has been working with colleagues at the University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archive and MBIRA to add the recordings to the MBIRA Archive.  The intent is to release them for sale, with proceeds to be distributed to the descendents of those recorded or to Zimbabwean musicians through the MBIRA Musicians Fund, when the descendants of the musicians on the recordings cannot be located.

For those unfamiliar with MBIRA, it is "a non-profit organization that celebrates and helps to sustain the ancient musical traditions of Zimbabwe.  MBIRA supports Zimbabwean musicians and instrument makers, and their families, through worldwide Zimbabwean music education, recordings, and performances.  In a country with around 90% unemployment, this provides critical support in the daily struggle for survival.  MBIRA has also created the largest archive of Shona mbira music in the world, which is a permanent resource for generations to come."

"MBIRA helps people make a living while preserving their culture - it's not charity, it's an investment in culture." --Chiedza K.

Not only is this a way to provide a sustainable source of income, but it is also a way to repatriate the recordings and their intangible cultural heritage (ICH) to the country and culture group of origin.  As you might remember, I discussed repatriation and ICH in a previous column.

Ask for Collection 1968.2 in the Archive.  The finding aid is online.

And we will keep you posted as to the recordings' MBIRA release date.

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