“Accountability, Transparency and Access to Information”:  A report on ICA’s 2103 Conference

Graham Dominy reports on the first annual conference of the International Council on Archives (ICA) which took place in Brussels in November 2013.

Archival Digitization and the Struggle to Create Useful Digital Reproductions

In a post first published on the Activehistory.ca website Krista McCracken discusses the challenge of preserving context when digitising collections.

Plan of Action for Archive and Paper conservation in museums & archives in South Africa

Monique Vajifdar, an art conservator, posted a proposal to the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) in October 2013 and submitted it as a comment on the Archival Platform website. Vajifdar is stll awaiting a response from the DAC.

Auto-archiving” in Muslim Communities on the Cape Flats

Saarah Jappie notes that,  for so-called “coloureds” in Cape Town, the experience of archive has historically been marked by absence. On one hand, the relationship with state institutions and the “official” record has been one of exclusion, in the form of both underrepresentation and limited access. On the other hand, due to generations of social, economic and physical dislocation, families have often been dispossessed of personal materials that speak to the past.  While these inadequacies have kept history out of reach for many, recent years have seen the rise of a new archival consciousness within one particular segment of this group – the Cape Muslim community. In this post Jappie considers the way in which heritage activists and cultural enthusiasts have come to revisit the past, engaging with existing records and establishing novel repositories of their own over the past two decades or so.

South African Taste

Duane Jethro explore the relationships between taste, sensibilities, place and heritage in contemporary South Africa.

Leaving their mark: names recorded on the walls of the Heerenlogement Cave

Heather MacAlister visited a the ‘Heerenlogement”  (Gentleman’s Lodging) a huge cave on the slopes of the Langeberg Mountains in the Western Cape and was fascinated by the names engraved on the walls of the cave. Picking up on the clues provided by names and dates her post uncovers the stories of some of the many travellers, botanists, astronomers, ministers and missionaries who left their mark there.

The Politics of Memory: A Case Study of the South African Archival Landscape

Jaana Kilkki of the National Archives of Finland visited South Africa as a member of the team of a Swedish Development Corporation Agency (SIDA) funded project between the National Archives of Sweden and the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. In this posts she shares her thoughts on, and insghts into, the South African Archival Landscape.

Records provide the last word in an ongoing family dispute!

Mak (from Makhado) describes a task in which he is required to seek out the records held by the Department of Justice in order to settle a rather messy family dispute.

Archives and the “Clouds”: Legacy, Accountability and Structure

Graham Dominy’s blog examines the state of the archives system in South Africa in terms of its constitutional, legal and administrative mandates. This post is s based on a seminar presented at the Public Affairs Research Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in May 2013.

Boxes in the Bantustan Basement :The Trajectories and Possibilities of the Lebowa Archive

Laura Phillips visits the archives of the former Lebowa and concludes that the disorder she finds there is the product of a very particular set of historical and administrative circumstances.

The TRC and CODESA Failed South Africa: It’s Time We Reflected on This

In this post, first published on the South African Civil Society Information Service website, Frank Meintjies notes that many of the deep-seated social and developmental problesm facing South Africa today link back to the transition processes of the 1990s - including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) - and concludes that, for significant numbers of marginalised South Africans, discussion of a better future begins with the historical view – and with robust discussion of the transition process itself.

#AskACurator and African collections

Harriet Deacon comments on the excitement and silences of #AskACurator day on 18 September 2013.

Why don’t all museums and archives want to open up like the Rijksmuseum?

Harriet Deacon looks at the advantages of and barriers to promoting wider digital access to heritage collections.

Report on a conference on Legacies of the Apartheid Wars in Southern Africa

Chris Saunders reports on the conference which took place at Rhodes University, Grahamstown in July 2013

Historical evidence crucial for decisions about custom

In this post, originally published on Custom Contested Mbongiseni Buthelezi reflects on how history and its making influences contemporary laws and debates about custom. He notes that legal arguments about chieftainship, customary rights and entitlements often make reference to the past and asks:, What is the place of historical research in litigation?’ How do we construct an accurate view of customary practices as they have evolved over time in order to make arguments about customary law? And where might we find the evidence to help us construct such a view?