Music Archives in West Afrika (MAWAS)

Memory, Power, and Knowledge in African Music and Beyond

The MAWAS research project investigates music archives in West Africa as an important component of colonial history and social memory, as well as their role in contemporary cultural and political processes. With a focus on Nigeria and Ghana, the project distinguishes between material archives, which include collections of instruments, compositions or transcriptions, and mental archives, which include knowledge of musical traditions and changing forms of musical classification and hierarchisation. The main interest lies in the dialectical relationship between mental and material archives. In the extension phase of the funding, the participating researchers are addressing new questions that have emerged from case studies in Ghana and northern Nigeria. These include the growing influence of religion on musical practice in both regions and a statistical analysis of quantitative data collected during the main project phase. The conference "Memory, Power, and Knowledge in African Music and Beyond" in Cape Coast in June 2015 concluded the project.


Funded by VolkswagenStiftung

Main project phase: 2009-2012 (42 Months)

Extension Phase: 2013-2014 (18 Months)