Record collections as musical archives: gender, record collecting, and whose music is heard

Sophia Maalsen, Jessica McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In this article the authors extend the concept of the museum and its collecting practices to record collections, and position record collections as musical archives that are representative of our popular music heritage. They recognize the role of material culture and museums in fostering social memory while also noting the absence of second-wave feminism in museum representation. Research on the archival turn in feminism suggests some intersections between material culture literature and some feminist thought and practices, but such overlap requires further examination. The authors suggest that masculine dominance of record collecting has implications for representing whose music heritage and tastes are being preserved. The literature on collecting has traditionally defined masculine actors as collectors while positioning feminine actors as consumers. This article looks at record collecting in detail and argues that a feminist critique of archiving in record collecting provides valuable insights into gender and power relations. Ethnographic research of record collectors conducted in 2006 and 2010–2013 shows that women do collect, but their collecting practices are overlooked due to the type of objects or genres being collected, and where they do exhibit the same qualities of masculine collectors, they are seen as anomalies and often downplay the value of their collections. Furthermore, gender bias is perpetuated when personal collections become the basis of musical canons and are institutionalized through reissue labels or museum collections. This maintains the masculine hegemony seen in music cultures more generally and has implications for creating and building an inclusive musical heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-57
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Material Culture
Issue number1
Early online date11 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • archives
  • gender
  • heritage
  • music
  • record collecting


Dive into the research topics of 'Record collections as musical archives: gender, record collecting, and whose music is heard'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this