4 episodes

We live in the age of information, but how often do we think about what has been lost—or nearly lost? From memories left on discarded machines to the voices of ancestors trapped on obsolete media, we are losing parts of human history each day.

In theme-based seasons, Material Memory explores the effects of our changing environment—such as digital technologies, the climate crisis, or global human displacement—on our ability to access the record of our shared humanity, and the critical role that libraries, archives, museums, and other public institutions play in keeping cultural memory alive.

Material Memory CLIR

    • Documentary

We live in the age of information, but how often do we think about what has been lost—or nearly lost? From memories left on discarded machines to the voices of ancestors trapped on obsolete media, we are losing parts of human history each day.

In theme-based seasons, Material Memory explores the effects of our changing environment—such as digital technologies, the climate crisis, or global human displacement—on our ability to access the record of our shared humanity, and the critical role that libraries, archives, museums, and other public institutions play in keeping cultural memory alive.

    The Duty of Memory

    The Duty of Memory

    Radio Haiti, the nation’s first independent radio station, gave people a voice in speaking out against government oppression while speaking up for human rights and democracy. In this episode of Material Memory, we talk with the Duke University Libraries staff who have been working to preserve a large collection of tapes of programming broadcast before government forces destroyed the station and its documents. We hear about the recovery of the audio and its importance in Haitian history.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Connected to the Legacy

    Connected to the Legacy

    In this episode of Material Memory, we talk to experts at the Amistad Research Center who are working to digitize the audio field recordings of African–American academic and linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner. His work established a connection between the languages of West Africa and African Americans living in the low countries and sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia. We listen to some of these recordings, discuss their importance, and hear how they bridge the distance between time and place.

    • 55 min
    The Ethics of Access

    The Ethics of Access

    How can recordings of indigenous languages be made accessible to the communities they represent? In this episode of Material Memory, we talk to experts about the ethical considerations and complexities of providing broad access to recordings that may be culturally sensitive—sacred sounds, songs and language—and why it’s important to reconnect people to their own content. One lesson? The story doesn’t end once something is digitized.

    • 46 min
    Keeping Cultural Memory Alive: What's at Stake?

    Keeping Cultural Memory Alive: What's at Stake?

    Kathlin Smith introduces the Material Memory podcast in a conversation with CLIR President Charles Henry about the threats to our cultural record and what is at stake if it's lost.

    • 21 min

Customer Reviews

gutedel1 ,

Powerful Opening Episode

What a thoughtful and moving conversation about the dangers to worldwide cultural heritage. I was particularly struck by Charles Henry’s description of the movement from worrying the physical record to the intensity and complexity of saving the physical and the digital heritage of the world. Especially in a time of unprecedented dislocation of populations because of violence and war and the mounting threat of climate change. CLIR’s committment to making a difference through multiple collaborative projects is admirable. And crucial.

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