Category Archives: Archives

State of the Archives: An Analysis of South Afrca’s National Archival System

SA_archive_distressThis comprehensive report details dysfunction and distress in the state’s record-keeping across a wide variety of sectors, from local government records to historical archives.

This has serious implications for a range of essential processes in South Africa that depend on records, such as land claims, local governance, infrastructure development and corruption prevention. The report also notes the disappearance of important historical documents and a disintegration of many existing archives.

 

Click here to read the full text on The Archival Platform website.

Constitutional Court Trust Oral History Project

Following up on Renfrew Christie’s comment that his signature is on the draft of democratic South Africa’s Constitution, I’d like to call attention to the Constitutional Court Trust Oral History Project.

This important project was carried out by the Historical Papers Research Archive, The Library, at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

It aimed to capture the memories and experiences of the people involved in the formative stages of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, to record in comprehensive, reliable and accessible form their memories of how an abstract constitutional ideal was converted into a functioning constitutional organism.

The 86 interviews were conducted between 2011-2012 and submitted by the Constitutional Court Trust in digital format. The transcripts can be accessed through this inventory from where they can be downloaded in PDF format. The audio recordings of the interviews are accessible at the Historical Papers Research Archive in Mp3 format.

For full inventory and links to PDF transcripts click here.

The Nordic Documentation on the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa Project

Editor’s Note: This site provides access to a number of archives in Finland, Norway, Sweden, as well as some Danish and Icelandic sources. Most of them are only finding aids, but there was some digitization work done on the Finnish sources. This was an effort led by the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala.

 

The Nordic Documentation on the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa Project

This historical site is a reference source for everyone interested in the late 20th century history of national liberation in Southern Africa and the role of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden).

The site provides finding aids of primary source materials that can be found at the different Nordic archival institutions, NGOs and archives of individuals who have been involved in the liberation struggles in Southern Africa. (See map of countries covered.) The available materials are mainly in the Nordic languages, but where possible, English is indicated. The website holdings include interviews with important actors, photographs, publications and posters and pins from 1960-1996. The finding aids are meant to facilitate information search on the Nordic countries’ involvement in the liberation struggles and directs the information seekers to where the information can be found. It also makes available some archival materials in a pdf-format for downloading.

 

About the Nordic documentation on the liberation struggle in Southern Africa.

The project started in 2003 and was completed in 2009.

The Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, Sweden, has for a number of years played an important role in documenting the Nordic involvement in the National Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa. In the present process of state building in Southern Africa, there is a search for history and its role in forming and reforming national consciousness. In this respect, it has become evident that the background materials that have been collected in the Nordic countries have an important role to play in filling the gaps that might exist in the search for a new “liberation history”.

In 2003 the Nordic Africa Institute initiated a project to identify archives in the Nordic countries, that cover documentation on anti-apartheid resistance and the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, mainly South Africa and Namibia, during 1960-1990. (Other countries are covered, see the information box in the right hand column.) Around this time, a large number of organisations in the Nordic countries e.g. government bodies, youth and church organisations, political parties and solidarity groups participated in the struggle. As a result, vast bilateral cooperation emerged and many well documented conferences and meetings were held in the Nordic countries and in Africa. Several visits to refugee camps in Africa and encounters with different leaders were also documented on videos, tapes and in pictures. Another result was this website that works as an reference source. It was launched on 24 April 2007. (More about the website.)

Organisations in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have localized, catalogued and organized archives on the liberation struggle. The archival lists are available in a database, found on this website, that has been created to make the materials known and easily accessible for researchers, students and others who are interested in this part of the world history.

The project was concluded in November 2009 with a workshop held in Pretoria, South Africa.

 

http://www.liberationafrica.se/

Re-Placing the Past – Opinions – Archival Platform

Re-Placing the Past

Every time I return to Berlin I am struck by the dynamics of heritage formation that have played out there in comparison to those at play in South Africa. 20 years into the democratic dispensation in South Africa, and with this week marking 25 years since the Berlin Wall came down, I would like to think about what kind of comparisons we can draw. Specifically, I want to briefly reflect on the work of two important German artists to think about urban, conceptually driven heritage practise in South Africa.

 

Duane Jethro, is a PhD student in social and cultural anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and an Archival Platform correspondent

Re-Placing the Past – Opinions – Archival Platform.