Recent events in Cape Town suggest that debates surrounding archives (in the broadest sense) and their significance in a South African context are alive and well. The first was the quarterly workshop of the Archives and Public Culture Research Initiative, held at UCT from 9th-11th November. Various academics from a broad range of disciplines (including literary, historical, anthropological) presented papers dealing with, among other topics, our inherited archive, pre-colonial concepts of archives, museums, film, heritage, online initiatives and oral traditions.
The second was the official Archival Platform (AP) launch on 12th November. This is a unique initiative that offers a platform for the sharing of ideas, opinions, information and resources relating to archive in South Africa. The archive, encompassing records, memory, cultural practice and place is critical to our sense of identity and citizenship but is facing serious challenges in South Africa. These include a lack of sufficient public and government investment in the sector resulting in limited access to records of the past and a fragmented professional sector. Through the creation of an integrated resource and online forum, the AP aims to address some of these issues.