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REMINDER! CFP – Featured section in History in Africa: Archives, the Digital Turn and Governance in Africa

Deadline for abstracts: 29 September 2017 This featured section of History in Africa will address the wave of digitisation of archives in Africa over the last fifteen years. With the rise of information technologies, an increasing part of public – and to some extent private – African archives are being digitised and made accessible on the internet. This wave of digitisation is usually seen as a progress with the help of ambitious initiatives applying new technologies to cultural heritage of humanity such as the rescue of the manuscripts of Timbuktu or the Endangered Archives programme at the British Library. Yet as much as these new technologies raise enthusiasm, they also prompt discussions amongst researchers and archivists, which go from intellectual property to sovereignty and governance. First, in the digital era, the issue of the ownership of these documents is crucial since the very definition of an archive is being challenged: from unique hard copies of documents, they can now exist in a variety of formats reproducible at will. Second, technical and economic issues at stake are also key to the discussion and intertwined with that of sovereignty: institutions elaborating a digitisation programme may do so under the pressure of donors […]

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Delving into the neglected colonial archives in Pointe-Noire [Congo-Brazzaville]

Préfecture de Pointe-Noire, 26 mai-2 juin 2017, Endangered Archives (British Library) In May 2017, an international group of five scholars from Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal and the UK, led by Dr Alexander Keese of Geneva University, went to Pointe-Noire [Congo-Brazzaville] to investigate why the colonial archives for the French Moyen-Congo had never been exploited by scholars. We had been told they existed and Dr Keese had applied for funding from the British Library, under its Endangered Archives scheme, to enable us to investigate why this was. In this blog piece, Thaïs Gendry gives her perspective on our mission. J’ai une affection nouvelle pour les premiers archivistes. Les archivistes des institutions établies connaissent et aiment leurs collections, apprennent à en comprendre la logique et les recoins. Mais il y a les premiers archivistes, ceux du temps des premiers inventaires. Chaque fonds d’archive, chaque série, a eu son premier archiviste. Nous étions une équipe constituée de deux archivistes congolaises, de deux directeurs d’archives congolais, et de 5 chercheurs européens. La première partie de la mission pour laquelle nous sommes réunis ressemble certainement à celle des premiers archivistes : rester dubitatif devant une masse de documents, sonder çà et là pour voir de […]

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