Archival Science

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 95–112

Toward an understanding of archives as a feature of collective memory

Original paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10502-011-9136-3

Cite this article as:
Josias, A. Arch Sci (2011) 11: 95. doi:10.1007/s10502-011-9136-3


This paper reviews important aspects of the literature on collective memory, how some of these concerns have been expressed in archives, and contemplates how these issues relate to the politically transformative South African post-apartheid context. It highlights the erosion of boundaries between archives, museums, and other less-institutionalized memory projects in post-apartheid South Africa. It notes ways in which archival activity is taking place outside of traditional archives, as part of a changing and evolving memory landscape. It acknowledges the significant gaps in the written record that are a result of apartheid practices and cites different approaches that were overlooked by apartheid’s official archival systems. This paper offers a way of contemplating the ‘social constructedness’ of collective memory and the social and political dimensions of archives.


Collective memorySocial memoryPersonal testimoniesPolitical transformationPolitics of memorySouth Africa

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA