A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

Documenting Arab Folklore … A Political Issue

Issue 1
Documenting Arab Folklore … A Political Issue

Dr. Mustafa Jad

The researcher raises a number of questions concerning stages of documentation experienced by cultural societies in today world. While international institutions act on documenting their collections and scientific resources, they earmark huge budges for this purpose for the sake of investing in years of field works carried out in the past two centuries. While these institutions preserve and make their findings available in specialized database, we find that specialized Arab centers closed or freeze their activities. There is no comprehensive Arab experiment to document our Arab folklore.

The writer wonders about the folklore archive on the Arab map. Can we say that we have attained a scientific archive able to provide us with folk substance that we collected? Do we have a database on folklore that can offer us for example — with customs connected with Subbu’ festivities all over the Arab World? Does any Arab country has a systematic scientific archive through which we can retrieve elements of folklore in popular phenomena or what is relevant to this element as far as customs and beliefs or literature or material culture and arts? Does this Arab country possess various media that reveal these elements in still or moving pictures or sound and written materials? In fact, no such a thing is available locally in any country alone in the scientific form that we can hope for. In the absence of proper Arab channels concerned with this issue, the idea of a unified Arab folklore archres indicate to a scientific ambition impossible to achieve in the meantime.

The distressing reality that Arab Folklore is going through, despite the existence of several establishments and convening diverse conferences, can be summarized, in fact, by negligence of the issue of documentation.

The paper deals with the interest of most European and American countries in having national folklore archives for each country. The United States for instance is involved on several archives both public and private. There are also hundreds of archives all over the world: in Germany. The United Kingdom, Russia, Italy and Canada. Some of these are ancient and continues to function and some of which is modem utilizing latest advancements in information technology.

The paper deals in details with some Arab experiments in 2007 such as the Syrian experience in documenting the folklore and the Moroccan experience in documenting its folklore and the Bahraini experience in documenting its folklore.

The researcher emphasizes that the process of documenting the folklore is one of the most complex and difficult processes in the life cycle of the folkloric material that begins , in our view, by the field collection stage followed by the documenting stage ending with analysis and inspiration stage. The difficulty of documenting is attributed to various points of views whether on the part of institutions or individuals without establishing channels of communications between them. Documenting the folklore is not only related to the field or published material but also to documenting biographies of folk artists and institutions concerned with the folklore as well as encyclopedia and research and theories. The framework of documenting field material is not only related with documenting the geographical frame of this material and field collectors, but also with the timeframe that may go back to centuries in the history of Arab culture to the stages of modern field collecting.

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