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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article explains the importance of creating sustainable interactions between custodian communities and archives, arguing that an archive is truly sustainable if it promotes and supports forms of sustainable and unmediated interactions and dialogue between its own organization and custodian communities. It first provides an overview of some of the contemporary concerns of cultural custodians as well as the contemporary concerns of archives before discussing interactions related to stakeholder communities and archived collections of musical recordings. It then describes the author’s experiences from her own research within Kam minority communities in southwestern China over the past thirteen years, and more specifically her involvement in archiving recordings of Kam music, to demonstrate how insights from the perspective of the fieldworker/archivist might be used in the process of developing new initiatives that assist in establishing sustainable custodian-archive dialogue and thus archival sustainability. The author’s work involved collaboration with Kam custodians to create and establish a sustainably archived digital collection of recorded materials with the Pacific and Regional Archive of Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC). Drawing on this experience, she proposes several new initiatives aimed at enhancing custodian–archive communication founded on two features integral to sustainable digital archives: using the very audiovisual means that form the basis of the archive, and using the archive’s online streaming capabilities (or digital recordable media such as VCDs and DVDs as substitutes where online streaming is not available).

Keywords: custodian communities, archives, cultural custodians, musical recordings, Kam music, archival sustainability, Pacific and Regional Archive of Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures, PARADISEC, digital archives

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