DARIAH Conference

interfacing with the humanities...

COBECORE was invited to give a presentation during the symposium Archives that Matter: Digital infrastructures for sharing unshared histories in the colonial archives (Copenhagen, 30-31/01/2018). The Danish branch the EU-funded Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH) organized the symposium and kindly provided travel and accommodation for Kim Jacobsen to attend.

The symposium was organized in the framework of the centennial of the sale of “The Danish West Indies” to The United States (today the US Virgin Islands). For this occasion, many Danish archives and collections are undertaking a mass-digitisation of their archival records from St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John, Ghana and the transatlantic enslavement trade. The symposium discussed ethical, political, aesthetic and methodological questions concerning the re-use and dissemination of sensitive archival materials – with particular attention for untold narratives and stories hidden within the archives.

The COBECORE presentation by Kim Jacobsen highlighted the continued relevance of historical archives for contemporary research. Data stored in the Belgian colonial archives is crucial to understand forest resilience to climate change in the Congo Basin. The unique richness and geographical scope of the multi-decade observations, which lie embedded in these archives, are particularly valuable when reliable data are scarce. At the same time, the archives tell stories that invite a re-interpretation of our colonial heritage, such as the life story of Panda Farnana.

Fig 1 - notations on the climate made by Panda Farnana at Eala in April 1910.© State Archive (COBECORE)