Sound Mapping as a Tool for Sharing Sonic Cultures Citizen Archivists and the Question of Accessibility of Materials Versus Archival Standards

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Diana A Chester


The Islamic call to prayer, the adhan, azhan, or athan, is recited five times daily as a way of signifying prayer times to Muslims. Over the past 7 years I have been involved in a research project of collecting field recordings of the call to prayer from mosques around the world and using a web-based sound map to geo-locate, share these recordings, and reach contributors outside of my own network. In this paper, I will offer a perspective of how the sound map as tool can participate in a discourse on the accessibility of archival materials to broader audiences, as well as the collection of archival materials from broader audiences. The paper will also consider that there may be an inverse relationship between accessibility of materials and archival standards and will look at how this impacts the breadth of accessibility versus the temporality of accessibility. What are the benefits and pitfalls of sharing compressed formats of archival recording through sound maps and widely accessible streaming services, that allow for broader dissemination, searchability, and access, and does this impact our understanding of the role of the archive?  What can a sound map offer in connecting users, materials, and communities and how can we leverage such a form of digital media toward archival ends? And finally, in a time when there are communities and people who are disappearing across the globe due to conflicts, how can tools like the sound map help us to archive and document these places.

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How to Cite
Chester, D. (2019). Sound Mapping as a Tool for Sharing Sonic Cultures. International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) Journal, (50), 20–24.