Inclusivity and Identity in a West African Audiovisual Archive

By Audrey Holdhus Small.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper draws upon a current project focussed on the preservation and digitisation of an outstanding archive comprising the complete recordings of a Guinean “literary magazine” television programme, “Parole, plume, papier”, which examines an impressive range of creative and critical activity throughout West Africa over a period of more than twenty years. Of particular interest to the wider research community is unique interview material with many of the region’s canonical writers and film directors, though a key point is that the programme’s local focus means that it is not just the world-renowned artists that feature here, but also those who remain important within the West African context.

One of the principal questions raised in the work of this project is over how such material can be brought to the widest possible audience, but more specifically to younger domestic audiences in West Africa, as the encouragement of literacy and engagement with literature remain central concerns for the curators. This paper examines firstly the processes and problems of preserving and diffusing such an archive where there are serious problems of finance, infrastructure and accessibility, before questioning what it means to be “inclusive” in this context. Where a certain stream of criticism and presentation of ‘modern’ African literature tends to focus on the tensions between a projected ‘Western reader’ and ‘African writer’, this project indicates a much deeper and more complex set of questions that involve multiple linguistic and national identities, African ‘readers’ of the audiovisual text, and ‘African readers’ that cannot be seen as a homogenous group.

Keywords: Africa, Audiovisual Archiving, Literary Criticism

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.1-6. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.108MB).

Dr. Audrey Holdhus Small

Lecturer, Department of French, School of Modern Languages and Linguistics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

Audrey Small is Lecturer in French and francophone studies at the University of Sheffield, UK. Her principal areas of research include publishing in francophone West Africa, West African literature, and post(-)colonial discourses of identity.


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