Sound Archiving and the Heritage of War

Carolyn Birdsall (University of Amsterdam)
Event date
Event time
17:00 - 18:30
St John's College
St Giles
Venue details

St John's College Barn

Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Disabled access?
Booking required
Not required

This presentation will examine the creation of sound archives in European radio broadcasting from 1930 onwards. I will take a critical look at the rapid expansion of sound archiving – both in scale and prestige – during National Socialism in Germany (1933-1945). On the one hand, regime officials now recognised radio as a potential object of scholarly knowledge, resulting in support for a new academic discipline of radio studies (Rundfunkwissenschaft). On the other hand, the perceived value of radio recordings meant that sound collections were taken from across German-occupied Europe during World War II, and subsequently, in 1945, Nazi-era recordings were confiscated by Allied Forces, some of which are still held in the British Library today. The presentation raises questions about how we might frame such sound collections today: not only as the product of specific archival processes, but also their status as forms of conflict heritage in the present. It also reflects on how to study sound archival politics and the heritage of war.