Category Archives: Uncategorized

AHA Draft Guidelines on the Evaluation of Digital Scholarship

By Seth Denbo (@seth_denbo)

We are publishing this draft on the web to obtain broad feedback from across the historical discipline. This is not the final version. We will be putting together a final draft for approval by the AHA’s Council in the second half of May based upon the comments we receive over the coming weeks. Please respond in the comments on this blog, on the Members’ Forum if you’re an AHA member, or anywhere on the web that suits you. If you blog about it or post comments elsewhere please let us know by tweeting at @AHAhistorians or sending me a quick e-mail.


Africa is a Radio: Season 2 Episode 1 | Africa is a Country

Africa is a Radio Season 2 is here! In our inaugural episode, we have added two hosts, Sean Jacobs and Elliot Ross of of this site! In the first episode they have a discussion on the African media sphere, The South African student protest Rhodes Must Fall, and the upcoming Nigerian elections.

There is also of course a selection of music from Chief Boima touching on all corners of the African diaspora.

Africa is a Radio: Season 2 Episode 1 | Africa is a Country.

AIAC Video: South Africa’s ‘born frees’ gag on the rainbow nation pill they’ve been fed for the past 21 years | Africa is a Country

Chimani Maxwele, a student at the University of Cape Town in South Africa caused a real stink earlier this month by flinging poo at the statue of Cecil John Rhodes on the university’s upper campus, protesting that black students are offended by ‘colonial dominance’ at the university, was indifferent to black students’ classroom experiences and failed to racially transform. Max Price, UCT’s vice chancellor (the equivalent of a university president), who is white, was quick to defend the Cape’s colonial heritage, insisting on moving the statue rather than removing it. Students hit back and online debates quickly turned to protests with last week ending in the statue being wrapped in garbage bags and students demanding a removal date.

Meanwhile, 700 miles away, in Grahamstown (named for a notorious British officer who had starved the Xhosa people into submitting to colonial authority) the Black Students Movement at Rhodes University stood in solidarity with UCT protestors and demanded that the name of their university be changed. It was a sticky situation for Dr. Sizwe Mabizela, Rhodes’s new vice chancellor (VC), just a few weeks after he was inaugurated as the “first black African VC” (the university’s boast). Last week Mabizela addressed a packed lecture theatre at an emergency student body meeting, insisting that the university would lose funding should the name change. Debates will continue this week as young black South Africans, known as the ‘born frees’, gag on the rainbow nation pill they’ve been fed for the past 21 years. Here’s some video shot for AIAC by student journalists at Rhodes University:

Read More:  AIAC Video: South Africa’s ‘born frees’ gag on the rainbow nation pill they’ve been fed for the past 21 years | Africa is a Country.

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.

Shifting African Digital Landscapes – Video and audio – News and media – Home

Speaker(s): Dr Sean Jacobs
Chair: Dr Wendy Willems

Recorded on 17 March 2015 in New Theatre, East Building.

Developments in online media point to interesting possibilities for African engagement in the global public sphere. African subjects are taking their places as audiences and agents, rather than receivers of aid and information.

Sean Jacobs is a faculty member of The New School in New York City and the founder of the popular Africa is a Country blog.

Wendy Willems is a Lecturer in the LSE Department of Media and Communications.

Credits: Tom Sturdy (Audio Post-Production), LSE AV Services (Audio Recording).

Event posting

Heritage of Portuguese Influence

 Editor’s Note: This website crowdsources information about Portuguese influence (colonial or not) throughout the world. Again, for obvious reasons most of the entries deal with Angola, Mozambique and Brazil, but there are a good deal of other sites as well. The points are geo-pinned on a Google Map, and the entries are searchable by location, or type of architecture as well. Below is a reproduction from their “about” page. You can visit the site at (

Heritage of Portuguese Influence/ Património de Influência Portuguesa (HPIP) is the natural evolution of the project Portuguese Heritage around the World: architecture and urbanism directed by José Mattoso and undertaken by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation from 2007 to 2012. Its aim was to publish in three volumes, plus another with indices, a compilation of information on the subject in the form of a geographically arranged dictionary. This process is well described in the project’s introductory texts by Emílio Rui Vilar and José Mattoso, as well as in the History section.

It is a natural evolution because the printed work has a physical expression and price only readily available to the general public in libraries, but also, given the subject matter and its geographical scope, because it implies a need for continual updating. Despite the large team of experts gathered for the purpose, it is not possible to ensure coverage of all relevant available and updated knowledge for the entire planet. Two desirable project development axes became evident: more extensive dissemination and the integral gathering of scattered information. Once effectively brought together they could generate a reciprocal snowball effect, for dissemination can stimulate collaboration and vice versa.

An online website is the ideal means for achieving those goals, one presented and functioning as an interactive public portal for the geo-referenced database that concentrates and administers all the information collected. The books’ content comprised the start-up capital, certainly sufficiently attractive and stimulating to elicit contributions from all those around the world who have something to add or correct, by means of either written or graphic (photos, drawings, etc) content.

Together this will enhance self-identification of the community that has inherited these assets resulting from various and mixed influences. Knowledge and its globalisation in a post-colonial environment is the basis for identifying communities with their heritage(s), thus encouraging efforts to safeguard, value, use and integrally develop same.

A compilation with all these characteristics will also certainly be significant for the scientific community, not only by making data available but also due to the cross-referenced and integral way it is provided by means of the geographic-based information system (GIS), easy access, continual updating and the inclusion of new material, etc.

The GIS not only ensures fully effective information management, but also facilitates searches via the more common alphanumeric input (box with magnifying glass symbol in the upper right corner) or by clicking on a GoogleMaps satellite image or a map. Each item listed is indicated by a pin with the HPIP logo. For some major urban centres a superimposed picture shows essential features of the early layout, defence structures and/or the location of the buildings covered. It is also possible to directly search the pre-formatted indices (geographic/toponymic, onomastic, original author, chronological) via the menu CONTENTS>NAVIGATION. Another way to search is directly via the images from the sub-menus in IMAGES: click on the image to access all content pertaining to the respective entry.

CONTENTS>CONTEXTS contains a set of texts that provide a synthesis and historical background regarding four major geographical regions: South America; Asia and Oceania; North Africa, Persian Gulf and Red Sea; and Sub-Saharan Africa. For each of those four regions a longer general text is provided, along with smaller ones which detail aspects associated to HPI in each of the sub-regions in which that information has been arranged.

The COLLABORATE menu can be used to propose a change, indicate an error and correct it, submit an image, propose a new entry or add items to the bibliography. It appears on the main bar and often as a clip elsewhere in the website. No prior registration is necessary; some identification information must be filled in, along with a brief description of what is intended. The respective attached file(s) should be in an editable format (jpg, doc, etc). The proposal will be evaluated in accordance with a pre-established certification process; the person who submitted it will be informed of the result within a maximum of 45 days. If approved, the content will be immediately posted on the website.

The scientific quality of the information is one of the fundamental values underlying this project and is assured by the participation as authors, though essentially as certifiers, of the broad range of experts comprising the Editorial Council. In line with current standards for scientific publications, the verification process is conducted anonymously, i.e. the certifier does not know who submitted the proposal and the latter does not in the end know who evaluated it. This ensures maximum system objectivity and transparency, as well as the quality of the approved contribution.

The print version’s texts are signed by the respective authors, as are the texts for new entries proposed after the HPIP became operational. But after a suggested change is included, the name of the original text’s author will appear in an attached list along with those of new contributors. The original text with duly identified authorship will nevertheless still be available via an adjacent menu.

As an interactive non-profit database maintained on the basis of collaboration from all interested parties, and notwithstanding the certification system, the posted content is the responsibility of the respective authors, whereby they must all be aware that the HPIP is an open database whose content (text and images) is provided in the most intuitive manner and open formats available to any interested party. All one needs to do is enter the website via

For more information, please consult the Terms and Conditions menu in the lower left corner of the page.

The Executive Council composed of scientific and academic experts oversees all the HPIP’s operations. It also includes representatives from the four universities which signed the protocol founding the HPIP with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Lastly, we ask for your understanding regarding any eventual problems that occur in this early stage, regarding how the website functions as well as presentation of its content. Efforts have been made to ensure a smooth transfer of content produced for presentation in book form to another entirely different format, but the results of this process are not always linear or predictable. Fortunately, this kind of support has the huge advantage of allowing continual updating and correction, not only by the team that created it, but essentially through the collaboration of all those who visit and use it.



Why I’m Moving Back To South Africa

Award-winning journalist Jonny Steinberg on the man who inspired him to write his new book, A Man of Good Hope, as well as return to his home country.

I am not a person prone to smugness. When I say that my life is the sanest and gentlest a person in our times can hope to live, it is with gratitude, not self-satisfaction. My house is near the center of Oxford, a famously old and beautiful city, and I commute to work each morning on a bicycle alongside a quiet canal. The journey takes no more than seven minutes — eight or nine if I stop to admire the swans; I hardly remember what it is like to sit in traffic or to grind against a stranger on public transport.

I teach at Oxford University where I have a tenured job — a rare privilege in this day and age. The students are clever and hardworking, my colleagues considerate and sane, my days never less than interesting.

Work seldom ends after 7 p.m. On summer evenings, my partner and I often stroll along the Thames into Port Meadow, cross its 300 acres of ancient pasture, and eat in the village on the other side. The light in the meadow is gorgeous from May through September, turning the grass a luminous green I last saw in childhood dreams.

I have just resigned from this job and am giving up this life. In a couple of months, my partner and I will be moving to Johannesburg, South Africa, where I was born. It is a city that heaves with umbrage. “There is a daily, low-grade civil war at every stop street,” the artist, William Kentridge, recently remarked. Sometimes, the war moves up a grade; many friends and family members have stared down a gun barrel over the years, and each act of violence is relived in conversation a hundred times over. It is a city where being white or well-heeled attracts some to beg from you and others to insult you, where life is so palpably unfair that the rich live in a state of astonishing denial while among the poor antipathy runs so deep that if you listen you can hear it hum.

Continue reading here.

ilissAfrica – Internet Library Sub-Saharan Africa

Editor’s Note: Reproduced below is part of the search engine “Internet Library Sub-Saharan Africa” (ilissAfrica). The project links a number of online catalogs. Some of the catalogs link to full-text, or else WorldCat. Of particular significance is the Frankfurt Colonial Archive which has photo-scans. Follow to ilissAfrica from this link.

About the project

The internet library sub-Saharan Africa (ilissAfrica) is a portal that offers an integrated access to relevant scientific conventional and digital information resources on the sub-Saharan Africa region. Information scattered on private or institutional websites, databases or library catalogues is brought together in order to facilitate research. Without ilissAfrica this information has to be collected in a laborious and time-consuming process.

ilissAfrica allows simultaneous searching (“General search”) in the following electronic resources:

  • Library Catalogue UB Frankfurt (mainly books)
  • Africa Section of the database World Affairs Online incl. the Africa library catalogue of GIGA Hamburg (books and journal articles) as from 1985
  • Library Catalogue of the African Studies Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands (books and journal articles)
  • Library Catalogue of the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) in Uppsala/Sweden
  • Library Catalogue of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Mainz University with Jahn Library and AMA
  • SSG-Section of the Swets database “Online Contents” (titles of journal articles)
  • Database on internet resources with more than 5.000 websites on sub-Saharan Africa
  • Africa section of Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE)
  • Colonial Picture Archive with 50.000 digitized historical pictures of Frankfurt University Library, Germany, and the Sam Cohen Library, Swakopmund, Namibia.

Furthermore an Africa Section of the Electronic Journals Library (EZB) to search E-Journals is provided.

ilissAfrica is a project of the Africa Department of the University Library Johann Christian Senckenberg in Frankfurt on the Main in cooperation with the GIGA Information Centre: Africa Library in Hamburg. Together they are in charge of the DFG Special Collections on sub-Saharan Africa.

The project is financed by the DFG.

ilissAfrica supports the association “European Librarians in African Studies” (ELIAS) as a european network aiming to promote professional exchange and cooperation among its members. The “Africa Section” of the Electronic Journals Library (EZB) was one source for the Wikipedia-article “African Studies Journals“.


schliessen des div-Bereichs content und der Content-Zelle


ilissAfrica – About the project.