Brian Michael Murphy | Afrofuturist Archives: Preserving Hip Hop Culture in the Digital Age
Music Mondays from the Carriage Barn | Fall 2020
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC | One major challenge for time capsules, archives, and other data preservation projects is how to ensure the survival of not only artifacts, but also the relevant historical contexts through which they should be interpreted.
This talk outlines a digital archiving project aimed at preserving hip hop culture, specifically the large corpus of oral histories generated recently on podcasts and YouTube shows, such as Microphone Check, The Combat Jack Show, Drink Champs, and the Red Bull Music Academy. This digital content constitutes significant knowledge about hip hop history and offers vital insight into the cultural contexts from which the elements of hip hop emerged and evolved. Hip hop archives at Harvard University, the Smithsonian, and other prominent institutions have brought attention to the need for preserving hip hop culture. However, there is currently no comprehensive effort to preserve hip hop’s online content against digital loss resulting from server crashes, corporate mergers, legal disputes over licensing, and other forces that sometimes render valuable content inaccessible.
Afrofuturist Archives would ensure that hip hop history is preserved in multiple formats, both digital and analog, and would also produce an online, 3-D map through which future generations could explore hip hop’s past and present, and add their own personal and community narratives to the culture's collective memory.
Brian Michael Murphy is a Faculty Member in Media Studies at Bennington College, and Director of the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. His forthcoming book, We the Dead: Preserving Data at the End of the World, will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2021.
His essays and poems have appeared in Narrative, Waxwing, Kenyon Review, Mississippi Review, Media-N, Fairy Tale Review, Kweli, and in Italian translation in Ácoma. His work has been supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, a Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant, and awards from the Tinker Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council. He holds a PhD in Comparative Studies from The Ohio State University, where he was a Presidential Fellow. In spring 2020, he helped relaunch the literary and art magazine The Northwest Review, where he is the Managing Editor and Nonfiction Editor.
Before becoming a professor, he released two hip hop albums, Manifest Destiny and Black Fire.
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