Centre for Popular Memory (University of Cape Town)


The Centre for Popular Memory (CPM) was an oral history based research and archival centre located at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. It has operated from 1986 until 2013. Its archival collections are now housed in UCT libraries ‘Special collections and archives.’

CPM has an audio archive that is is divided into 11 collections containing 213 sub collections. These sub collections include 2079 audio objects, 460 are of these audio objects are in digital format. These are available on the centre’s digital collections website. Interviews with Cape Jazz Musicians feature as highlights of the digital collections. Some of the themes explored in the interviews are the effects of apartheid in the music scene in the 1950's and 1960's, priorities of recording labels, music reception across social groupings in District Six and the strong influence of American jazz. Music genres referred to are big band, avant garde, bebop, dance, jive, marabi, township jazz, goema and Latin.

The centre’s predecessor, the Western Cape Oral History Project (WCOHP), was established in 1985 and conducted various projects including interviews with former District Six residents. By the late 1990s South Africa had experienced dramatic political changes causing oral historians to shift their attention to memory and identity projects. The shift motivated the change from the WCOHP to the broader vision of the CPM in 2001.

The centre’s video archive is divided into raw footage, CPM projects and CPM resources in VHS format. Raw footage contains 186 hours, CPM Projects contain 15 projects and CPM Resources include 130 hours of VHS material, of which 10 hours are now in digital format.

ZACape Town, South Africa


Centre for Popular Memory
Profile added by Ano Shumba on 31 Aug 2015