Phonogrammarchiv repatriates Madagascar’s acoustic heritage

In time for UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage on 27 October the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences is proud to announce that more than 1,000 sound documents from Madagascar have returned to their country of origin.

The recordings were made between 1961 and 1992 in the course of field research conducted by Lotte Schomerus-Gernböck, Gerhard Kubik, August Schmidhofer and Michael Weber. On behalf of those scholars and the Phonogrammarchiv, August Schmidhofer (Department of Musicology, University of Vienna, and himself a member of the archive’s staff until 1989) handed over a virtual archive on a hard disk containing sound documents of traditional music, fairy tales and stories as well as the respective accompanying documentation.

The repatriation ceremony last September, which took place at the Institut de Civilisations (Université d’Antananarivo) in the presence of Mireille Rakotomalala, ethnomusicologist and former minister of culture, was widely echoed in the local media. Other archives are expected to follow this example.

Mireille Rakotomalala and August Schmidhofer (Antananarivo, 26 September 2012)

Since its foundation in 1899, the Phonogrammarchiv has been committed to the preservation of the intangible cultural heritage of mankind. This mission has long been accompanied by the responsibility to repatriate the unique recordings made by Austrian researchers in the field and safeguarded for decades by the Phonogrammarchiv (cf. also our ongoing editions, published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences Press).