Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology World Oral Literature Project

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology World Oral Literature Project

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  • Map of the World Oral Literature Project's collections, created in collaboration with the Language Landscape initiative
    Map of the project's collections, created in collaboration with the Language Landscape initiative
An urgent global initiative to document and make accessible endangered oral literatures before they disappear without record.

For many communities around the world, the transmission of oral literature from one generation to the next lies at the heart of cultural practice. Performances of creative works of verbal art - which include ritual texts, curative chants, epic poems, musical genres, folk tales, creation tales, songs, myths, legends, word games, life histories or historical narratives - are increasingly endangered. Globalisation and rapid socio-economic change exert complex pressures on smaller communities, often eroding expressive diversity and transforming culture through assimilation to more dominant ways of life. As vehicles for the transmission of unique cultural knowledge, local languages encode oral traditions that become threatened when elders die and livelihoods are disrupted.

Find out more

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology World Oral Literature Project website