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“Why the holdup?”: a rewarding visit to Pretoria’s archives

In this post, post-graduate student at University of Portsmouth, Roel van der Velde, recounts his research visit of last July to Pretoria, where he visited the South African National Archives and Archives of the former South African Defence Force. As a first-time visitor of the country, Roel shares his experiences of daily life and work in Pretoria and takes a peek at political developments in South Africa. (more…)

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National liberation and nation-building: Algeria in the 1960s

This post is the product of a conversation between Dr Ed Naylor and Dr Natalya Vince about the recent ‘Progress, Change and Development’ conference, which took place on 4-6 June 2015 at the University of Portsmouth. Among the many stimulating panels of the conference, the final session of Saturday morning particularly stood out for us. Entitled ‘National liberation and nation-building: Algeria in the 1960s’, the panel featured two women who were simultaneously first-hand witnesses to Algeria’s early years of independence and intellectuals offering reflections on these experiences. Cathérine Levy, whose personal archives are now at the BDIC in Nanterre, recalled teaching at a school in the Algiers Casbah during the Ben Bella presidency (1962-1965) where she and her colleagues found themselves spontaneously reinventing a ‘postcolonial’ syllabus. Fascinating details also emerged on agricultural ‘autogestion’ (self-management) initiatives and localised micro-currencies, as well as tensions surrounding the women’s movement. Natalya Vince, chairing the session, picked up on one aspect of Lévy’s testimony which chimed with her own experience researching her monograph Our Fighting Sisters (2015): during these early years of the Republic, senior posts throughout government were held by individuals of remarkable youth who retained close ties to comrades from the independence struggle. […]

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