Martor No. 24 / Year 2019

Sounding Out the Personal Archive 

(Download PDF)



Claudia Câmpeanu, Mara Mărăcinescu

About the authors:

Claudia Câmpeanu 

School of Sociology and Social Work, University of Bucharest, Romania 

Mara Mărăcinescu 

Freelance sound editor and podcast producer, Romania 

Pages: 111-126

Keywords: Sound recording, informal archives, storytelling, intimacy, podcast.


This paper is about working with archives—finding, accessing, making them intelligible, producing and curating them—and what this process looks like when we privilege sound as material, process, instrument, and logic. In our audio project, we took personal archives as a starting point and through audio recording we produced two more related archives: a carefully edited and curated one, the podcast Americanii, and an unedited “rough” one, the totality of audio recordings (and some photographs) we produced in several weeks of fieldwork. 

Americanii is a curated oral archive that preserves personal stories gathered in the field while creating new narratives from them. It employs different storytelling structures that show the potential of the sound medium as a way to access and mediate these oral histories. 

Through this project, we interrogate the way personal archives can be understood and approached, not just as material collections but rather as complex assemblages of objects, stories, memories, and sounds purposefully collected, managed, and produced in non-institutional settings. We show the potential and limits of the intimacy inherent in the process of audio recording, and how intimacy can be a way not just of accessing archives, but also of producing them.

How to cite this article: Câmpeanu, Claudia, Mara Mărăcinescu. 2019. “Sounding Out the Personal Archive.” Martor 24: 111-126. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2019.24.09]