Conference Call for Papers: Archiving, Memory and Method from the Global South





Conference Call for Papers

Archiving, Memory and Method from the Global South

17-19 October 2024

Makerere University

College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Kampala, Uganda

“Archive” is one of the most capacious concepts in the humanities and social sciences. “To archive” or to consult “the archives” are often used to authorize evidence and legitimate certain knowledge at the expense of others. In an effort to recenter the politics of knowledge from the Global South, some scholars have attempted to expand or reimagine archival practice. However, archives are not only contested tools for scholarly pursuits. Archives – and the process of archiving – are also key parts of identity formation, nation-building, struggles for community justice, the consolidation of state power, and resistance to power. To think about archives means to think critically about knowledge, power, and their entanglement with practices of remembering and preserving – as well as culling and suppressing.

Whether we define archives as collections of material or digital papers/objects, the physical repositories that house them, and/or the institutions that control them, archives are formations for consolidating and contesting knowledge and power. The particular forms of knowledge and power that coalesce around ideas of “archive” are especially generative and contested from the Global South. In many societies, archives were institutional tools and ideological prisms of colonial control. Government paper archives were both productive and reflective of efforts to re-order and control colonized societies. Resisting state power often went hand-in-hand with secretly guarding the transmission of knowledge for specific audiences. Therefore, efforts to preserve knowledge within community archives have been forced to contend with broader questions about the status of knowledge, its relationship to histories of colonial reordering, infrastructural histories, and the institutional positions of archives’ custodians and constituencies.

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) invites scholars, archivists, and community practitioners to a conference on the relationship between archiving, memory and method from the Global South. Through a grant from the Mellon Foundation, CHUSS is concluding a three-year project that has studied the intersection of archives with communities, institutions and academia. This international conference will be both a culmination of the project and an opportunity to widen the community of scholars and practitioners working in the field. We seek presentations on the dynamics of archival practice, knowledge and power from the Global South. What are the historical practices of preservation that precede and/or challenge colonial archival knowledge? How do efforts to preserve indigenous knowledge transform that knowledge through the process of archiving? How should scholars productively and ethically engage with archives, not just as existing sites of research but as institutional sites of memory in the making?

Conference Themes

Proposals for panels, roundtables or individual papers may address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

Archives and colonial knowledge

National archives and state power

Archiving orality

Literature and alternative archives

Archives in museums and curatorial practice

Community archives

Performance and intangible archives

Archives and universities

Digital archives

Archival theory

The politics of archival preservation and access

Histories of archival institutions

Memory studies

The conference’s keynote speakers will be: Prof Nathan Mnjama (University of Botswana), Prof Dina Ligaga (University of the Witwatersrand), and Prof David Luyombya (Makerere University).

The conference will be held in-person at Makerere University. Prospective presenters are invited to submit panel, roundtable or individual paper proposals. Panels should consist of up to 4 presenters or 3 presenters and a discussant. Roundtables should include 3-4 participants. Individual paper abstracts should be between 200 and 300 words and include the name, affiliation and contact details of the presenter. Panel proposals should include a panel abstract of 400-500 words, abstracts of 200-300 words for each individual paper, and the name, affiliation and contact details of all panelists. Roundtable proposals should include a 400-500 word abstract on a specific theme in addition to the name, affiliation and contact details of all participants. Abstracts and proposals should be sent to: by June 18, 2024.


The conference is part of the project activities supported by the Mellon Foundation at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Therefore, there will be no conference fees. However, organizers are not able to cover individuals’ other costs associated with attending the conference, such as air tickets and accommodation.

Keynote Speakers

Nathan Mnjama is a Professor in the Department of Library and Information Studies, University of Botswana with specialization in Archives and Records Management. His PhD was on Railway Records: Their Management and Exploitation in Kenya. Prof Mnjama has worked as an archivist and records manager at the Kenya National Archives and was responsible for the location and copying of Kenyan archives from the UK between 1980 and 1985. He has considerable experience in teaching and delivery of archives and records management programs having lectured at the School of Information Sciences, Moi University Kenya, and since 1996 at the Department of Library and Information Studies University of Botswana where he has been instrumental in the design of archives and records management programs. Prof Mnjama is a well-known scholar in archives and records management, and has published extensively in the field of archives and records management in Africa. Prof. Mnjama has participated in several records management initiatives organized by the International Records Management Trust aimed at improving archives and records keeping practices in Africa. He has considerable experience supervising Masters dissertations and PhD studies in Archives, Records Management and Information Studies. His research areas include migrated archives, preservation and conservation of library and archival materials, management of audiovisual archives, access and archival programming, archival legislation, records management, transparency, accountability and good governance. In the recent past, Prof Mnjama has served as the African Expert Panel Member representing the African Region in the Endangered Archives Programme, which is managed by the British Library. Currently, he is a member of the International Council on Archives (ICA) Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage.

Dina Ligaga is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, specializing in media institutions and identities in Africa. She is the author of Women, Visibility and Morality in Kenyan Popular Media (2020), which critically examines the role of media in shaping everyday life, particularly in relation to gender dynamics. Additionally, Ligaga has co-edited two significant books on media, culture, and institutions in Africa, namely Radio in Africa: Publics, Cultures, Communities (2011) and Rethinking Eastern African Literary and Intellectual Landscapes (2012). She has also contributed to scholarly discourse through articles in esteemed journals such as the Journal of African Cultural Studies, Research in African Literatures, Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies, Social Identities, and The Radio Journal. Ligaga's research extends to book chapters in notable collections like the Routledge Handbook of African Popular Culture (2022) and the Oxford Handbook of Radio and Podcasting (2024). Recognized for her expertise, Ligaga was invited as a keynote speaker at the 2023 African Feminists (AFEMS) Conference held at Rhodes University, Makanda, South Africa. Currently, she is preparing to lead a stream on media and archives in Africa at the upcoming 2024 African Studies Association UK (ASAUK) conference at Oxford.

David Luyombya is an Associate Professor in Makerere University’s Department of Records and Archives Management, of which he is also the Chair. He has authored numerous publications on community-based archives management, digital archives, and public recordkeeping in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes, including African Research and DocumentationESARBICA Journal, and the Handbook of Research on Heritage Management and Preservation. He has more than 20 years of expertise conducting research and teaching at universities in the area of records and archives management. He graduated from University College London with a PhD in Archives Studies. His credentials include awards from Fulbright and the Commonwealth Scholar programs. Throughout his career, he has built partnerships with archivists and archives institutions to expand the impact of research in records and archives. He has served as an external examiner for universities within and beyond Uganda, and he has guided numerous students through Makerere University’s Master's program in archives administration, knowledge management, and records management.

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