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"Little Research Value"

African Estate Records and Colonial Gaps in a Post-Colonial National Archive

by Ellen Ndeshi Namhila

Ellen Ndeshi Namhila is intrigued by the question: Why can the National Archives of Namibia respond to genealogical enquiries of Whites in a matter of minutes with finding estate records of deceased persons, while similar requests from Blacks cannot be served? Not satisfied with the sweeping statement  that this is the result of colonialism and apartheid, she follows the track of so-called “Native estates” through legislation, record creation and disposal, records management  and administrative neglect, authorised  and unauthorised destruction, transfer and appraisal, selective processing, and (almost) final amnesia. Eventually she discovers over 11,000 forgotten surviving African estate records – but also evidence for the destruction of many others. And she demonstrates  the potential  of these records to interpret  the lives of those who otherwise appear in history only as statistics – records which were condemned  to destruction  by colonial archivists stating  they had “little research value and no functional value”.

This study of memory against forgetting is a call to post-colonial archives to re-visit their holdings and the systemic colonial bias that continues to haunt them. This is the revised version of Ellen Namhila’s 2015 doctoral thesis published at the University of Tampere, Finland.

ISBN 9783905758788 | 278 pages | 244 x 170 mm | 2017 | Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Namibia | Paperback


eBook ISBN: 9783905758931



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