The Nordic Documentation Project on the Liberation Struggles in southern Africa hosted the concluding workshop in Pretoria last week. This project, financed by the Swedish Government, began in 2003 with the objective of documenting the past to inform the future. The outcome of the Project is a database containing archival lists and a website with short interviews and fulltext documents. The object of the workshop was to explore ways of collaboration to make research in this area more visible, to identify official and alternative archives and explore research topics in order to build new knowledge.
The Project website is available here
A wide selection of academics, researchers and archivists were invited to contribute a think piece to present at the workshop. Pat Liebetrau, Manager of DISA, was invited to present on the challenges of Digital Preservation of liberation struggles material.
The presentation is available here
The workshop stimulated much debate with a fair amount of passion and enthusiasm. The need for co-ordination of the resources “out there” and improved access to research and project outcomes was agreed as a priority. However, this was not coupled with concrete proposals to ensure sustainable and ongoing implementation.
Several exciting research topics were identified and the interdisciplinary nature of new research was emphasised. NAI as a research based organisation may be able to offer funding to support some of this research. Increased research co-operation between individuals (north and south) and between institutions was also on the wish list. Many digitisation projects are producing content but very little work is being funded to ensure that the sum of these projects is made available in a cohesive and context rich environment to support new research and new knowledge.