Oral Literature in the Digital Age: Archiving Orality and Connecting with Communities - cover image

Book Series


Mark Turin; Claire Wheeler; Eleanor Wilkinson; Contributors retain copyright of their work.

Published On





  • English

Print Length

190 pages (xxiv + 166)


Paperback156 x 10 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.4" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 13 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.5" x 9.21")


Paperback607g (21.41oz)
Hardback985g (34.74oz)



OCLC Number





  • HBTD
  • JFHF
  • JFSL9
  • JHMC
  • CFB


  • SOC002010


  • GR72


  • Oral literature
  • orality
  • online tools
  • digital cultural archives
  • marginalised languages
  • ethnography
  • linguistics
Thoth logoPowered by Thoth.

Oral Literature in the Digital Age

Archiving Orality and Connecting with Communities

  • Mark Turin (editor)
  • Claire Wheeler (editor)
  • Eleanor Wilkinson (editor)

Thanks to ever-greater digital connectivity, interest in oral traditions has grown beyond that of researcher and research subject to include a widening pool of global users. When new publics consume, manipulate and connect with field recordings and digital cultural archives, their involvement raises important practical and ethical questions. This volume explores the political repercussions of studying marginalised languages; the role of online tools in ensuring responsible access to sensitive cultural materials; and ways of ensuring that when digital documents are created, they are not fossilized as a consequence of being archived. Fieldwork reports by linguists and anthropologists in three continents provide concrete examples of overcoming barriers—ethical, practical and conceptual—in digital documentation projects. Oral Literature in the Digital Age is an essential guide and handbook for ethnographers, field linguists, community activists, curators, archivists, librarians, and all who connect with indigenous communities in order to document and preserve oral traditions.


This book addresses a vitally important topic of considerable interest to a broad group of readers.

Dr Mick Gowar

Anglia Ruskin University


All these contributors, like the editors themselves, are devoted to finding creative, accessible and usable digital platforms that not only close the distance between users, researchers and the tools used to archive oral literature, but also continue to connect, foster and sustain relationships with indigenous communities and those who try to access their rich and rapidly disappearing cultures. [...] This international and frank discussion enables us to deeply engage with the important issues that constantly surface in the field. [...] the authors' transparency and willingness to discuss their challenges provide readers with important insights into the imperfect but necessary efforts being made to preserve endangered oral literatures and protect intangible cultural heritage.

Stacey Zembryzcki

"ORAL LITERATURE IN THE DIGITAL AGE: ARCHIVING ORALITY AND CONNECTING WITH COMMUNITIES by Mark Turin, Claire Wheeler, Eleanor Wilkinson". Oral History (0143-0955), vol. 42, no. 2, 2014.

Full Review

Table of Contents




Introduction by Mark Turin, Claire Wheeler and Eleanor Wilkinson

I. Principles and Methods of Archiving and Conservation

1. The Archive Strikes Back: Effects of Online Digital Language Archiving on Research Relations and Property Rights

Thomas Widlok

2. Access and Accessibility at ELAR, A Social Networking Archive for Endangered Languages Documentation

David Nathan

3. Multiple Audiences and Co-Curation: Linking an Ethnographic Archive of Endangered Oral Traditions to Contemporary Contexts

Judith Aston and Paul Matthews

II. Engagements and Reflections from the Field

4. Researchers as Griots? Reflections on Multimedia Fieldwork in West Africa

Daniela Merolla and Felix Ameka in collaboration with Kofi Dorvlo

5. American Indian Oral Literature, Cultural Identity and Language Revitalisation: Some Considerations for Researchers

Margaret Field

6. Ecuador's Indigenous Cultures: Astride Orality and Literacy

Jorge Gómez Rendón

7. From Shrine to Stage: A Personal Account of the Challenges of Archiving the Tejaji Ballad of Rajasthan

Madan Meena

8. Mongghul Ha Clan Oral History Documentation

Ha Mingzong, Ha Mingzhu, and C.K. Stuart



Mark Turin

Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of British Columbia

Claire Wheeler

Research Assistant at King's College London

Eleanor Wilkinson