Library to offer recordings of Baja's cultures

'Fonoteca' captures native and migrants' histories

TIJUANA – A place is taking shape where you can hear Baja California's history.

For ten months, a researcher has been gathering recordings that capture and preserve the stories of the state's indigenous communities and the waves of people who settled in the state.

There's a recording of a grandmother who still speaks a native language, for instance, or of an old song.

The researcher, Armando Estrada, is the director of a unit on the cultures of the Baja California. He has compiled aural memories to make the first music library, or "fonoteca," in the state.

The library will have more than music, though.

So far it has 10,000 items selected from the native and migrant communities in the region, including recorded interviews with individuals about their life, songs, oral lessons used to learn native tongues, and videos.

The purpose of unit, funded by the National Council of Arts and Sciences, is to encourage the preservation and dissemination of popular expressions in urban, rural and indigenous areas.

The materials are divided in three categories: native communities, migrant communities and Mestizo groups. Some of these can already be accessed in the portal, even though its inauguration won't be until May 21, a day Mexico sets aside to celebrate cultural diversity.

Estrada explained that the library will have a permanent space, consisting of an area for listening and a library. It will be in a center called Centro de la Cultura de la Legalidad, located in an area known as the Third Phase (tercera etapa) of the Río zone, on the city's east side.

"There's a need to preserve memory," Estrada said. "Starting with the oral stories in the sound library you can get a sense of place, of identity."

He said the library will allow for "the rescue of the cultural legacy of the pueblos of Baja California."

The unit has received support from the cultural offices of the Mexican states from where large numbers of migrants come from, such as Oaxaca, Michoacán and Chiapas, as well as from researchers and schools and universities.

This sound library is for anyone interested in discovering, through their sense of hearing, about the region's cultural diversity.


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