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Archival Science

, Volume 2, Issue 1–2, pp 63–86 | Cite as

The archival sliver: Power, memory, and archives in South Africa

  • Verne Harris
Articles

Abstract

Far from being a simple reflection of reality, archives are constructed windows into personal and collective processes. They at once express and are instruments of prevailing relations of power. Verne Harris makes these arguments through an account of archives and archivists in the context of South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy. The account is deliberately shaped around three themes — race, power, and public records. While he concedes that the constructedness of memory and the dimension of power are most obvious in the extreme circumstances of oppression and rapid transition to democracy, he argues that these are realities informing archives in all circumstances. He makes an appeal to archivists to enchant their work by engaging these realities and by turning always towards the call of and for justice.

Keywords

apartheid archival system archival legislation discourse justice memory construction positivism postmodernity power race recordness South Africa 

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References

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Verne Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.South African History ArchiveBraamfonteinSouth Africa

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