11 September 2019

POSITION: Belgian Colonial Archives (Belgian State Archives-Belgian Scientific Policy/Université St Louis, DEADLINE 1 OCT 2019)

(image source: Standen&Landen)

Project description:
Les Archives de l’Etat et l’USL-B recrutent un·e docteur·e en Histoire (h/f/x) dans le domaine «archives & histoire coloniales belges» (programme FED-tWIN) Contexte FED-tWIN is a new federal research programme from the Belgian Science Policy Office to promote sustainable cooperation between ten Federal Scientific Institutions and Belgian universities through the funding of joint research profiles. SHARE — Supply a Fair and Transparent Access to a shared Heritage - the ‘Africa Archives’ - to implement Decolonised Research about Belgian colonisation in Congo, Rwanda and Burundi (1885-1962). This FED-tWIN profile aims at taking advantage of the relocation of ‘Africa archives’ to AGR-ARA (State Archives in Belgium) and USL-B (Université Saint-Louis – Brussels) expertise in colonial history in order to enable Belgian, Congolese, Burundian and Rwandan societies to reconnect with their colonial past. The project consists of four WP. One work package (WP) is assigned to each unit. In WP1, the FED-tWIN researcher will increase the accessibility of ‘Africa archives’ by writing new finding aids (mainly inventories and databases), by retro converting old ones and by revising the conditions for consultation. WP2 is dedicated to the digital repatriation of these archives and the transfer of knowledge about those. The researcher will prepare this repatriation by removing diplomatic, technical and ethical obstacles that could hinder this transfer. The ‘Africa archives’ constitute a unique heritage. However, this collection does not contain all the archives of Belgian colonisation. In WP3, the FED-tWIN researcher will search the colonial archives remaining in Central Africa to repatriate a digital copy to Belgium. They will also complete this collection by collecting oral testimonies from European and African colonisation actors. WP4 is a transversal WP focused on communication and dissemination of project results to an audience of historians and archivists, to an audience of citizens and to an audience of students. USL-B is a centre of excellence for research in Belgian colonial history. Its expertise is forged from the exploitation of the ‘Africa archives’ i.e. documents produced by the Ministry of Colonies, the General Government of the Belgian Congo and the services that compose it as well as the mandated administration of Rwanda and Burundi. At the same time, AGR-ARA has a strong and recognised expertise in management, preservation and dissemination of Belgian public archives. Since 2016, its collection includes almost 10 linear kilometres of ‘Africa archives’ until then kept at the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. AGR-ARA faced a challenge: applying its know-how to a new archival material - the ‘Africa archives’. Only a researcher specialised in Belgian colonisation history with a thorough knowledge of its archives can take it up, to join the existing team and to consolidate expertise. The expert would build their expertise on the basis of the knowledge developed within USL-B on the one hand and AGR-ARA on the other. The researcher will have to develop an unparalleled knowledge about the colonial archival production (e.g. map the main archive producers and their documentary production’s logic) and the archival policies implemented in Congo (1885-1908, 1908-1960) and in Rwanda and Burundi (1924-1962), as well as those currently in force in Europe and Africa for the management of colonial archives. At the same time, they will mobilise the ‘Africa archives’ as teaching material and as a source to conduct an in-depth study of interracial violence in the long run. This protean phenomenon has been widely denounced for the Congo Free State period and the independence, but it must now be considered in a broader way. Interracial violence should be considered in the long term as a tool and a support for any activity in (post)colonial context.
(image source: Standen&Landen)

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