Community Custodians of Popular Music's Past: A DIY Approach to Heritage, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Community Custodians of Popular Music's Past

A DIY Approach to Heritage, 1st Edition

By Sarah Baker


198 pages | 27 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-10-02
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This book examines do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches to the collection, preservation, and display of popular music heritage being undertaken by volunteers in community archives, museums and halls of fame globally. DIY institutions of popular music heritage are much more than ‘unofficial’ versions of ‘official’ institutions; rather, they invoke a complex network of affect and sociality, and are sites where interested people – often enthusiasts – are able to assemble around shared goals related to the preservation of and ownership over the material histories of popular music culture. Drawing on interviews and observations with founders, volunteers and heritage workers in 23 DIY institutions in Australasia, Europe and North America, the book highlights the potentialities of bottom-up, community-based interventions into the archiving and preservation of popular music’s material history. It reveals the kinds of collections being housed in these archives, how they are managed and maintained, and explores their relationship to mainstream heritage institutions. The study also considers the cultural labor of volunteers in the DIY institution, arguing that while these are places concerned with heritage management and the preservation of artefacts, they are also extensions of musical communities in the present in which activities around popular music preservation have personal, cultural, community and heritage benefits. By looking at volunteers’ everyday interventions in the archiving and curating of popular music’s material past, the book highlights how DIY institutions build upon national heritage strategies at the community level and have the capacity to contribute to the democratization of popular music heritage. This book will have a broad appeal to a range of scholars in the fields of popular music studies, musicology, ethnomusicology, archive studies and archival science, museum studies, critical heritage studies, cultural studies, cultural sociology and media studies.


This generous book draws on an extensive survey of DIY archival ventures, the practices, experience and insights of people dedicated to the heritage of popular music. Baker’s writing attests authoritatively, clearly and sensitively to the value of DIY archival activity in everyday life and for the importance of popular music as an integral part of our shared cultural histories. Baker offers a deft balance of extensive empirical detail and theorisation regarding a number of current issues concerning the creation and status of the DIY archive, its affective dimensions and its sustainability in the face of a range of challenges. While this book will be of interest to popular music scholars and DIY practitioners both, it has a lot to say a wider constituency concerned with public history and offers a starting point for further research, theorisation and indeed practice.

Paul Long, Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research

Table of Contents

Introduction: Identifying Do-It-Yourself Places Of Popular Music Preservation 1. The Global Extent of DIY Institutions: Popular Music Archives, Museums, and Halls of Fame around the World 2. Narratives of Foundation: Saving Popular Music’s Material Culture from the Rubbish Dump 3. Places for Living: The Volunteer Experience in Popular Music Archives, Museums, and Halls of Fame 4. Communities of Heritage Practice: Becoming a Professional Amateur in Popular Music Preservation 5. Relationships with Authorized Heritage Institutions: Drawing on Others’ Expertise 6. Making Popular Music’s Material Past Publically Accessible: Engaging with the Community of Consumption 7. DIY Futures: The Challenge of Sustainability Bibliography Index

About the Author

Sarah Baker is an Associate Professor of Cultural Sociology at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Music

This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Considering music performance, theory, and culture alongside topics such as gender, race, ecology, film, religion, politics, and science, titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions / General
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / History & Criticism
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Pop Vocal
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture