Shubhasree Bhattacharyya

Archival and Museum Fellowships

Grant Period: over one year

The aim of the IFA-ARCE Archival Fellowships is to give practitioners the opportunity to engage with and explore innovative ways of presenting the archive’s collection from a contemporary context. The ARCE, one of the most important audio archives, houses an extraordinary collection of more than 25,000 hours of recordings. ARCE was established in 1982, to return to India the audio recordings of Indian music stored in archives abroad as well as to ensure that copies of contemporary research remained in India. The IFA-ARCE fellowships will give the fellows access to the entire archive as well as to the library that has an exhaustive collection of books, journals, and newspaper clippings.

Shubhasree Bhattacharyya has been working in the field of sound studies and practices since 2008. Trained in Comparative Literature and Film Studies, it was during her research at CSSS Calcutta, that Shubhasree became interested in ‘work music’ from the perspective of a documentary filmmaker. This interest developed into the thesis of her doctoral research (2009-14). She shot her first film in Rasulpur, West Bengal and the film was based on the songs of ’peddle husking’. The preoccupation with listening and voices from the margins has remained with her since.

Shubhasree has engaged with the ARCE archives in the past and is familiar with the collection. She found that though the archive has extensive material related to ‘work music’ it is spread and scattered across collections. One of the objectives that Shubhasree hopes to achieve during her research period is to categorise these scattered pieces of music into a logical framework using the theme of the ‘body’ and the ‘listening experience’ as guiding factors. Thus she will develop a creative ‘finding aid’ for future researchers of the archive. Besides this, she aims at working towards a publishable text either in the form of a journal article or a monograph that will contribute to sound studies from the vantage of lived practices. She will also create a sound installation coupled with ‘listening experiences’ that will introduce audiences to sounds rather than images.

This grant was made possible with support from the Tata Trusts.