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ORAL DATA COMMITTEE
Attendance : James Fernandez, Grahan Irwin ( chairman), Philip Noss
Invited guest : Franck Gillis, Polly Grimshaw, George List, Carom Robertson
Discussion of the seven applications for funds to aid in the collection and transcription of African oral data was initiated by Professor Graham Irwin, chairman of the Comittee. Mr. Irwin reviewed the present status of the original Ford grant which alloted $ 22,500 for grants to individuals over a 5 year period. Some $ 9,220 has been expended during the past two years. The committee attributed the small number of applications received this year to the fact that there were fever scholars going into the field and, consequently, less material was available for deposit in the Archives.
Committee members felt important to distinguish between academic applications written with a view to helping build-up the Archives and applications aimed solely at facilitating an indivudual’s research. In limiting its concerns to the former, the committee aids scholars whose fieldwork is already completed.
The following people were awarded grants for 1971 :
In raising the problem of appropriate indexing for oral collections, Mr. Fernandez expressed the opinion that the Comittee should decide on a sigle, standard procedure. Utlimately, the usefulness of the Archives depends on how readily accessible the contents of collections are made available to scholars, ands such accessibility is contingent on a system of indexing. The question originally arose over the idexing of the Mona Fikry collection, and Carol Robertson who has worked with Franck Gilis on the alphabetical (subject)
index of the Fikry collection was present, along with Polly Grimshaw of the University Library.
The commitee’s discussion touched on various established indices which might be adopted for general use by depositors, including the subject index, the folkore motif index, and the geographical- cultural index. The future computerization of material must be borge in mind, and il was felt that people depositing their collections should make some judgment by suggesting dominant and subordinate classifications. Though the Archives of traditional Music does accept collections which are not fully documented ( so long as the locale and group are identified ), substantial difficulties are encountered in attempting ti classify such material. In the long run, some sort of general
Classification would be most effective in aiding people to locate material pertinent to their research.
Material can be classified at several points, the most desirable being the application of subject headings taken from G. P. Murdock’s Outline of Cultural material bye collectors as they are working in the field. This entails familiarizing people with a general classsification before they set out for the field and results in greater flexbility in use of Murdock’s code. If material is not claissified in this manner, the code can be applied after the collector has assembled all his/her material or the material can be classified by someone else. The latter is least helpful and tends to be restrictive.
Since oral data collections often encompass both songs tales, it was necessary to find a way of indexing all aspects of folkore. Pollu Grimshaw reminded the Comittee of a paper presented by Daniel Crowley at a meeting in Tokyo regarding the classification of folkloric material. It was suggested that the Murdock method of indexing would make the most sense since Mordock provides the opportunity to be as general or as detailled as one would wish. Murdock’s classification is limiting only in that it forces subjet matter into categories for it is culturally ( as apposed to genre) oriented. THis drawback might easily be overcome through provision by the collector of a supplement, or catch-all index.
Professor Irwin hesitant to burden potential collectors with instructions on how to index, but it was pointed out that Murdock’s is viewed as a more or less universal index, already familiar to most anthropologists and helpful with many materials used by historians which do not fall into motif- type classification. Personal and place names, which are not part of the Murdock index, could be built in. The Thompson motif index, on the other hand, is meant only for narratives, and while one could still apply it to folk materials, the motif index makes it difficult to find a context for some things.
Carol Roberton’s work with Fikry’s folktales consisted od compiling an extensive subject index. Unless money is available, howeve, the Archives cannot continue to assume reponsibility for such specialized indexing. It was felt that Fikry’s song texts could be fit into the Murdock index, though many of the songs did not appear to relate to the tales in any way whatsoever.
The need for a minimal amount of data from the collector was stressed.
Since any one index would to allow for substantial cross-classification, the Murdock index seemed most appropriate. The more knowledge one has of the material ; the more divided and detailed one can be. Thus, Murdock’s method of indexing allows for maximun utilization of the material while minimizing the violence done to the subject matter.
It was decided that grant awards should be accompanfed by recommendations for indexing. People will be encouraged to use Murdock’s method, and it was suggested that a copy of the first 3 or 4 pages of Murdock be sent to grant recipients. All material sent to the Archives will be classified according to Murdock’s Outline of World Cultures as well. Specialized methods of indexing
will be used with collections of folkore, and alphabetical supplements should accompagny all indices since personnal, place and group names are always helpful.
The last item on the agenda concerned the « Agreement for Deposit of Confidential Material for Storage » now being drawn up with the aid of legal counsel. The standard contract which has long been in use presents depositors with several options regarding rights to material desposited in the Archives but makes no provision for keeping it confidential. Until the new contract becomes available, the Archives cannot accept anything confidential. It was pointed out, howener, that once the confidential contract is ready, anyone requesting it should be required to state those reasons why he/she wants the material to remain confidential. Section 4 (e) of the new contract will protect informants and other involved parties by allowing for retention of the confidential aspect of the agreement between the depositor and the Archives even after the death of the former. All confidential contractys expire after 30 years ; at which time the standard contract goes into effect. Upon signing the confidential contract, depositors will specify in advance what their option will be on the standard contract.
A cursory review was made of the status of collections for which grants were awarded in 1969 and 1970. It was decided that the Committee’s most recent deliberations should be reported as soon as possible by the Executive secretary of the Association to this year’s applicants. Franck Gillis will mail copies of the Archives « Standards for tape Deposits of African Oral Data » to individual grant recipients.
Shortly before the meeting was adjourned, Mr. George List raised the question of continued funding for the Oral Data Committee following the expiration of the Ford grant in 1973. The budget for Archives staff is affected by such considerations since it will be difficult to hire a full-time curator unless the position can be guaranteed for several years. The Committee will look into possibilities for re-funding.
The FY 1972 budget was due for release at the end of January 1971, and was expected to include a request for $ 15.3 million for language and area programms ( NDEA VI and 102 (b) 6 of the Fulbright-Has Act ), plus an additional $ 3 million in excess foreign currency ( PL480 fund ). This is a marked improvement over last year’s original budget request from the Administration of $6 million and $3 million, respectively . Chances are that Congress will probably apppropriate all, or most, of the requested funds. At least the appropriated FY 1971 level of $8 million would seem certain, assuming that the program receives the same public support as last year .
Most government officials and academics close to the Washington scene, however, regard the FY 1972 budget request as at best a one-year holding action, and consider the next year ot two a watershed for international education. NDEA VI must be extended because it expires July 1, 1971. The International Education Act, which was never funded, will probably be interred.
The Foundation for Higher Education may be created ( see Intercultural Education , May 1970) .
Supporters of international education hope that 1971 will be used for reappraisal and re-education as to the future role of language and areas programs,
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