The Biko autopsy report: what's the 'right thing' to do?
Jo-Anne Duggan considers issues relating to the planned auction of the Biko autopsy report. Taking a cue from a statement made by Nkosinathi Biko, she reflects on what might be the 'right thing' to do
What is the significance of an Identity Document in post apartheid South Africa?
Dineo Skosana's insightful post questions the relevance of holding an ID today and considers how it monitored access to space, place, work and social life under apartheid. The article also questions racial identity, privilege and access as embodied in the possession of an identity book.
Censorship of public archives and the limits of accountability
Harriet Deacon, commenting on the recent release of British records of colonial activity in Kenya concludes that while the ideal of the comprehensive and open official archive is a noble one, it is never fully realized. She argues that governments tend to censor or 'curate' archives by limiting what goes into them and by controlling who sees it.
Missing documents at the Department of Home Affairs
In our quest to understand the state of records management in the public sector the Archival Platform commissioned a number of 'archive activists' to access records that should be easily available to citizens, and to report back on their experiences. This post focuses on challenges encountered by an activist attempting to obtain an unabridged brith certificate from the Cape Town Regional Office of the Department of Home Affairs in Barrack Street. It moves on to discuss the role of unabridged birth certificates in human trafficking, children travelling and identity theft and closes with some thoughts on the Department's digitisation policy as a solution to safeguarding paper records, applications and certificates.
Intangible heritage and the archive
Deirdre Prins-Solani considers the complex relationship between intangible heritage and the archive at the nexus of archive activism.
Social cohesion: a national imperative and a challenge for archivists
Jo-Anne Duggan considers some recent initiatives aimed at promoting social cohesion and asks what archivists can do to contribute to this challenge.
The Archive and Memory / Memory as Archive
Deirdre Prins-Solani reflects on the seamless ways in which memory and archives connect.
Social Cohesion, the TRC and Justice
Mbongiseni Buthelezi reflects an op-ed published on the Daily Maverick website on 27 June 2014 and written by Jane Quin titled 'De Kock ordered my sister's killing - and no, his debt is not paid'. Buthelezi concludes that It is nimperatve, for the project of social cohesion, to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of apartheid-era crimes and human rights violations.
Jacqui Quin and Leon Meyer: The life of a photograph
Jo-Anne Duggan traces the fascinating life story of the photograph of Jaqui and her husband Leon Meyer taken in the mortuary in Maseru and published in the Sunday Times on 22 December 1985. The life of this particular picture took a couple of unexpected turns as it made its way in the world. It didn't, like others published in the same edition of the newspaper slip quietly into obscurity, to lie dormant in the archive. It left its mark on the family and on the photographer and it took on another life, inspiring a novel and being implicated in some way or another in a bombing.
Opening the TRC Archive: a SAHA case study
Catherine Kennedy, director of the South African History Archive (SAHA) describes the work her organisation has done to making the work and records of, and surrounding, the South African TRC more readily accessible, drawing on the recommendations made by the TRC itself to direct its work.
What are our parliamentarians saying and hearing about archives?
The Archival Platform has argued that the significance of the archives, and the role that national and provincial archives and records services play in ensuring the proper management and care of all government records is insufficiently recognised and acknowledged by our leaders and decision-makers. In this post Jo-Anne Duggan turns to the Hansard to find out what our parliamentarians are saying - and hearing - about archives.
The AGSA's report on local government 2012- 2013: Implications for records management
The AGSA's Consolidated general report on the audit outcomes of Local Government 2012-2013 indicates that in many instances record keeping is inadequate of non-existent! In this post we consider the statements made about the state of record keeping in this report, and the measures put in place to improve the situation.
Our new minister is responsible for archives too!
In all the uproar surrounding the appointment of our new minister something positive has emerged: arts and culture organisations have been coming out in defence of the sector, explaining why arts and cuture matters in society. We put the case for archives.
Cecil Rhodes, Heritage Formation and Contemporary Popular Culture
Duane Jethro, notes that as the state has chosen not to 'unsettle' apartheid-era monuments and heritage sites activists have taken matters into their own hands and staged various cultural interventions in an attempt to disrupt these static commemorations of power.
The Art Archive
Emile considers the 'art archive', the visual constructons of the human imagination that stand alongside other forms of the human trace such as letters, books, oral testimonies, etc., and as important in understanding the meaning and scope of archive and memory.
The pleasures of discovery: understanding the settlement you live in.
Stephen Townsend shares his delight in the pleasure of discovering the places we inhabit, through the archive, and offers researchers interested in exploring the archive of the built environment some useful tips.
Looking back at 2013: Looking forward to 2014
Jo-Anne Duggan pauses for a moment to reflect on the state of the archive - the good news, the challenges and the way ahead.
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.
#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.
Forever Etched in my Memory: The funeral poster that haunted my childhood
This evocative post by Xolelwa Kashe-Katiya's reminds us of the power of the archive and the opportunities that digitisation offers to make fragments of the past broadly accessible in the present.
Future archives: problematizing digital archives
Carolien Greyling considers the the benefit of digitizating archives, especially for making material more easily accessible, but wonders if the cost of this will, in fact, keep these resources out-of reach.
Archives in the Future
Goa Gaberone think ahead and shares her wish list for archives with us!
What is still wrong with the Protection of State Information Bill?
Verne Harris reflects on the Protection of State Information Bill, identifies four fundamental flaws and concludes that the way forward is to withdraw the Bill in its current form and start from scratch.
Comment on the revised draft White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage
The document offers a very narrow reading of the role and significance of archives. More specifically: it fails to address the vital role of the archives in a democratic society; it loses sight of the role of archives in re-imaging the past; and it does not address the critical role that archives play in building social cohesion
The Liberation archives and human rights in South Africa
Vuyani Booi suggests that liberation archives are not just mere records to be studied for historical purposes and argues that they may be used to build a responsible citizenry.
The myth of the struggle?
Reflecting on Freedom Day celebrations, Dineo Skosana notes that analysis and understanding of these relations, the multilayers of the struggle, how colonial and apartheid policy incessantly shaped the struggle, and what the end result - freedom - meant to people at the time and now may help better understand contemporary national and local politics in South Africa.
Carolien Greyling comments on the parlous state of Mpumalanga's Municipal archives and the repercussions this has for the future.
Archives and Records Management: striking a balance
National and provincial archives are tasked with two key responsibilities: 'the proper management and care of the records of governmental bodies' and 'the preservation and use of a national archival heritage'. Jo-Anne Duggan considers the records relating to the change of street names in cape Town and concludes that when resources are scare and capacity limited it's critical to strike a balance between these competing priorities