Call | Historical Traces of European Radio Archives, 1930-1960

Dates: 28-29 October 2021
Location: University of Amsterdam and / or online
Organisers: Carolyn BirdsallCorinna R. Kaiser and Erica Harrison
Abstracts: 15 April 2021, no more than 300 words plus short biography
Acceptance: 01 May 2021
Papers: 01 Sep 2021, position papers (2000-4500 words)

This two-day interdisciplinary workshop brings together scholars and practitioners invested in theoretically-informed, connective histories about radio archives. It focuses on radio archival collections in Europe that were affected by war and political transformations between 1930 and 1960, including the entanglements of Axis countries, as well as Allied, with European radio archives during World War II. When studying European radio archives today, scholars are often required to “re-collect” dispersed materials as a result of changed institutional circumstances (Badenoch 2018) or the aftermath of conflict, war or regime change (Birdsall 2018).

One strategy for scrutinising European radio collections is to elucidate archivist practices in describing and cataloguing radio collections, and reveal “tacit narratives” indicative of past ideologies or political investments in the archive (Ketelaar 2002). Another productive approach may evaluate archival tools or technologies in order to record, copy, store, or preserve radio recordings. The workshop thereby builds on the growing attention to the significance of archival processes for scholarly understandings of radio history. Against a long-held tendency to decry the ‘absence’ of sound recordings in the archive, there is a burgeoning interest in the rich potential of the radio archive as an object of study (Dolan 2003, Street 2014).

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Media history approaches to the radio archive (e.g. transnational/entangled media history)
  • Impact of war, conflict or political change on radio archival collections
  • Provenance research and the looting of radio archives
  • Professional practices of radio archiving (e.g. catalogue description, metadata enrichment, selection and deaccessioning), and archivists as data/information specialists
  • Technologies of the archive (e.g. index cards, finding aids)
  • Materiality of archival records (e.g. recorded sound, paper/photographic documentation)
  • Archival uses of particular sound media and recording technologies (e.g. disc/tape recording)
  • The effects of decay, neglect or technological obsolescence on radio archival collections
  • Various collection types (e.g. off-air radio recordings, sound libraries, commercial music collections)
  • Computational humanities and the radio archive, including data visualisation

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short biography to by 15 April 2021.

The authors of accepted proposals will be notified by 1 May 2021, and the ‘position papers’ (2000-4500 words) will be expected by 1 September 2021. Further information will follow on the conference format, but it is certain that online participation will be possible, and a special issue publication, with selected papers, is planned.

The workshop is hosted by the research project TRACE (Tracking Radio Archival Collections in Europe, 1930-1960), which is funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and supported by the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM) and Department of Media StudiesUniversity of Amsterdam.