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Despite increasing attention to the preservation and development of sound archives in academic research and cultural heritage institutions, they are yet to be more substantially embraced in larger theoretical debates on archival theory and practice. Fraught with contested histories through the legacy of ethnomusicology, rooted in the enterprises of colonial imperialism, now in the era of mass digitization and distribution, many sound collections are attempting to develop ethical and empowering methodologies that support community involvement and a vigorous remediation between sound and visuality. Addressing this confluence of concerns, this article considers the ways in which contemporary digital sound archival projects are encouraging an engagement with cultural history and memory in innovative and complex ways, mobilizing the affordances
of digital tools and community-based support material with careful attention to the negotiation between its sonic and visual constituents. Through an analysis of two case studies – The Roaring ‘Twenties and Smoke Signals Radio Show Archive – this article examines how contemporary digital archival projects activate and remediate sonic documents and their contextual counterparts to invite a diverse, multifaceted, and multi-sensory encounter with history, memory, knowledge, and the past.
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