Dr Janet Topp Fargion

Janet Topp Fargion, Curator World and Traditional Music, Sound and Vision
Head of Sound and Vision
Related Offices
Chair of the Research Archive Section of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives

Dr Janet Topp Fargion is Head of Sound and Vision at the British Library. Her general research interest is the discipline of Ethnomusicology, with a focus on the music of Africa, particularly of South Africa and the Swahili Coast in East Africa. Her research currently centres on ethnographic sound recordings as sources for ethnomusicological investigation.

Janet is an active member of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology and the Archiving Committee of the Society for Ethnomusicology and is chair of the Research Archive Section of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives. In 2015, she co-curated the British Library major exhibition West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song.


  • ‘Archiving in a post-custodial world: an audiovisual perspective’, Ethnomusicology: Global Field Recordings (2019) 
  • West Africa: word, symbol, song (Boston Spa: British Library, 2015) [co-editor with Gus Casely-Hayford and Marion Wallace] 
  • Taarab Music in Zanzibar in the Twentieth Century: A Story of ‘Old is Gold’ and Flying Spirits (London: Ashgate Publishers, 2014)
  • ‘Developing best practice for online delivery of ethnomusicological recordings: anecdotes from the British Library’, Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (2013)
  • ‘We’re all Archivists now: Towards a more Equitable Ethnomusicology’, Ethnomusicology Forum, 21 (2012), 125-140 [with Carolyn Landau]
  • 'Connecting with Communities: Building Sustainable models for Audiovisual Archiving into the Future', in Ethnomusicology in East Africa: Perspectives from Uganda and Beyond ed. by S. Nannyonga-Tamusuza and T. Solomon (Kampala: Fountain Publishers, 2012), pp. 49-59

Collection guides

World and traditional music collection

We hold one of the world's largest collections of recordings variously described as traditional, folk or world music