Monday, 2 December 2013
Article published on cultures of preservation at the Victorian Jazz Archive
An article I co-authored with Alison Huber has just been published in the journal Popular Music History (vol. 7, no. 3, 2012). Titled ‘Masters of our own destiny’, this article presents a case study of the Victorian Jazz Archive.
By focusing on the one archive we were able to delve deeper into the cultural and social functions of do-it-yourself places of music preservation, functions that we outlined in our earlier article ‘Notes towards a typology of the DIY institution’ published in the European Journal of Cultural Studies.
The title of this latest article is taken from an interview with the VJA's collections manager, Mel Blachford. "Masters of our own destiny" really encapsulates the spirit of this archive, as it does the other music archives and museums I have visited as part of this research.
The abstract for the article is as follows:
This article introduces the work of a volunteer-run, ‘DIY institution’: the Victorian Jazz Archive (VJA), located in Melbourne, Australia. This archive was set up in 1996 by a community of enthusiasts who saw a need for an archival facility to house the growing volume of jazz ephemera otherwise in danger of being lost from the public record. The VJA survives on a small budget that relies on grants, donations and membership fees, and remains open and accessible only through the generosity of an army of volunteers dedicated to preserving this music’s material history. Drawing on fieldwork conducted at the archive, including in-depth interviews with fourteen volunteers, the article explores some of the cultural and social functions of this informal institution. It describes the ways in which volunteers perceive the importance of vernacular knowledge to the task of archiving jazz, and what this might mean for the sustainability of the VJA.