Memory, Voice, Sound and Physicality through a Multi-sensorial Radio Remix Installation 

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The ethnographic installation “Kabusha Radio Remix” repurposes Bemba language recordings from the archived audio recordings from one of Radio Zambia’s most popular programmes, Kabusha Takolelwe Bowa (a Bemba proverb meaning “The Person Who Inquires First, Is Not Poisoned by a Mushroom”). In the programme, host David Yumba answered listeners’ letters about politics, society, family, and current events, as they were read aloud by co-host Emelda Yumbe. Central to the installation is a reengineered 60-minute Kabusha “radio program” that mimics its original format. This version, however, juxtaposes Yumba’s recorded responses as answers to present-day inquiries about politics, the technicalities of archives, current Zambian and global politics.  

This audio paper, framed as a conversation, addresses the collision of the tactile and the sonic, and discusses how sonic frontiers are exploited and transgressed in the engineered sound mix and via visitors’ engagements with the installation, inviting visitors to “encounter voices and images from the past in a technological space that is both historical and contemporary” (Stoller 2015).  The paper addresses how the installation works as a digital hypertext to analogue ephemera, and how issues of subject agency, immortality, translation, wisdom, ownership, truth, and the media-democracy relationship are thrown into bold relief.  

Audio Paper

Kabusha Radio Remix: Your Questions Answered by Pioneering Zambian Talk Show Host David Yumba (1923-1990).

Kabusha Radio Remix: Your Questions Answered by Pioneering Zambian Talk Show Host David Yumba (1923-1990).


Deepest gratitude to our colleagues at Ethnographic Terminalia and Le Cube for fostering this work and our physical installations.  Special thanks go to Nick Peterson (voice recording of di Leonardo excerpt).  The Bemba Online Project and the Kabusha Radio Remix project have been generously supported by the Emory University Halle Institute for Global Learning, the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, the Emory University Department of Anthropology, and the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship.  


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Campbell, C. (2015) Ethnographic Terminalia - After the Bureau of Memories: Reflections  at the Intersections of Archives, Art, and Anthropology. Mnemoscape, 2. 
Dick, P.K. (2002) We can remember it for you wholesale (Vol. 2). Citadel Press. 
Ernst, W. (2010) Archival Times: Tempor(e)alities Of Media Memory. 
Leonardo, M.-d. (2012) Grown Folks Radio: U.S. Election Politics and a “Hidden” Black Counterpublic. American Ethnologist 39(4):661–672.   
Stoller, P. (2015) The Bureau of Memories: Archives and Ephemera. Fieldsights–Visual and New Media Review, Cultural Anthropology Online
Vidali, D.S. (2016)  Multisensorial Anthropology: A Retrofit Cracking Open of the Field.  American Anthropologist 118(2):395-400.    

Audio Sources in Seismograf Audio Paper
Kabusha Radio Remix
Christoph Cox, Matter (In Several Phases). Recorded November 20, 2014.
Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, The Transformissions of the Archive: Literary Remainders in the Late Age of Print. Recorded March 14, 2016.
Allison Molitor, Memory Lecture. Published July 21, 2012.
Prof. B.J. Phiri, October History Lecture: 50 Years On is Zambia's History Forgotten, Suppressed or Untold? Recorded October 1, 2014.

Project Websites
Kabusha Radio Remix
Bemba Online Project (BOP)


Peer review articleZambiaremixradiomemoryarchives

About the author(s)

Kwame Phillips is assistant professor in the Department of Communications, John Cabot University, specialising in visual and sensory media production, ethnographic documentary, visual anthropology and audio culture. Phillips’ work centres on multidisciplinary engagement and focuses on resilience, race, and social justice. He is a recent Filmmakers Without Borders Fellow.  

Debra Spitulnik Vidali is associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, Emory University and the founding director of Re-Generation Initiative. Vidali's work centres on critical epistemology, ethnographic theatre, experimental ethnography, political subjectivity, democracy and citizenship, public sphere theory, discourse circulation and media ethnography. 

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