Locating and preserving audiovisual collections of expressive Andean culture in Peru (Cusco, Lambayeque and La Libertad) (EAP767)

Aims and objectives

This project has been designed as the final phase of the process initiated by the two previous successful projects (EAP022, and EAP298), aiming to locate and preserve ethnographic audiovisual materials of expressive culture in Peru.

Local intellectuals and collectors who live in diverse regions of Peru have preserved their cultural heritage by documenting, through audiovisual media, the most expressive manifestations of their culture: music, dance, festivals and rituals. These collections are in imminent threat, because for many decades they have not been considered worthy of cultural or historical value, and have not, therefore, been incorporated into larger archives or libraries. They remain in the hands of their private collectors, their relatives, or heirs, in poor material conditions and in danger of deterioration or loss.

Audiovisual documentation provides a development perspective to the performing aspects of culture, especially in those expressive arenas constituted by music, dance, and ritual as its main cultural context. In Peru, these kinds of traditional cultural representations are at the centre of the sense of local and regional identities. People tend to express their aspirations as a social group through representation and performance. Music, dance and rituals derive from century-old traditions, either of Andean Pre-Hispanic origins (Cusco), or early Colonial development (Lambayeque, La Libertad). Therefore, the adequate conservation of these collections is of utmost importance, in order to keep the memory of peoples that, besides performance, do not have other ways of remembering and commemorating their past.

The purpose of this project is to locate these collections in geographical areas which have not been previously visited, digitise them and in doing so, preserve them for future generations. It is anticipated that the following archival audiovisual materials will be located: recordings; film and video; and photographs. All formats will be encompassed, from cylinder, reel-to-reel, to cassette in the audio realm; from Super 8 film to Beta, VHS video; from glass to black and white, and colour photographs, to colour slides.

The previous projects covered six regions, representing the northern, central and southern parts of Andean Peru. But two important areas remain: Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire and one of the most important cultural regions of contemporary Peru, and the Coast of Peru.

Modern Peru is a multicultural nation divided into 24 Departments, each corresponding to a particular cultural region, and each including a variable number of provinces. Besides this cultural variety, Peru has an enormous geographical diversity: a coastal area, an Andean region, and the Amazon forest.

All the materials will be digitised and catalogued according to the British Library standards. One digital copy will be given to the owner along with the original collection; another digital copy will remain in the archives of the Institute of Ethnomusicology; and the final digital copy will be delivered to the EAP programme at the British Library.

Once this third stage has been completed, the largest sample of Peruvian audiovisual collections will have been established, comprising nine different regions dispersed throughout the nation. Many collectors will have been helped in preserving materials gathered in a lifetime, for the wellbeing of future generations.


The project team digitised 41 collections in three targeted regions; Cusco, La Libertad and Lambayeque. A total of 9,685 photographs, 155 hours of audio and 103 hours of video were digitised. All collectors have received digital copies of their collections on DVD discs.