Displacements and Diasporas

The Displacements and Diasporas project began in 2014 as a response to the lack of international action on disputes over displaced archives – those archives removed from the places of their creation during decolonisation, conflict or the succession of states.

In September 2016, I convened a panel, Displaced Archives: Time for Renewed Action, with Eric Ketelaar and Anne Gilliland at the Congress of the International Council on Archives (ICA) in Seoul, South Korea. At this session, the President of the ICA announced the formation of the Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage (EGSAH) to lead ICA’s response to the problems we set out.

In February 2017, Routledge published Displaced Archives, an edited collection of landmark essays and case studies of archival displacements. The book was highly commended in the Australian Society of Archivists’ 2018 Mander Jones Award, and Patricia Kennedy Grimsted’s chapter won the inaugural Archival History Article award from the Society of American Archivists’ Archival History Section.

2017 also saw the Association of Commonwealth Archivists and Records Managers (ACARM) adopt a position paper on the Migrated Archives, which I wrote with Mandy Banton.

In 2018/19, I conducted an international survey of disputed archival claims for the EGSAH, updating the picture formed by Leopold Auer’s 1998 survey. The report of the survey is available in English and French. The dataset compiled during the survey is available for reuse here:

In 2020, with Dr. Forget Chaterera-Zambuko, I curated an online exhibition called Lost Unities for the Museum of British Colonialism. The exhibition attempts to surface and humanise the ongoing calls for the repatriation of the Migrated Archives.

The current focus of the Displacements and Diasporas project is a follow up to the 2017 edited volume. The forthcoming book is entitled Disputed Archival Heritage; it continues and expands the discourse that the first volume began.

Other publications related to this project include:

  • Lowry, J., Displaced Archives: Proposing a Research Agenda, Archival Science 19(4), 349-358, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-019-09326-8
  • Lowry, J., Mnjama and the Migrated Archives, in Ngoepe, M., Keakopa, S., Segaetsho, T., Bayane, S. & Moloi, J. (eds.), Memoirs of an Archivist: Festschrift in Honour of Prof. Mnjama. ESARBICA, 2019.
  • Lowry, J., Radical Empathy, The Imaginary and Affect in (Post)Colonial Records: How to Break Out of International Stalemates on Displaced Archives, Archival Science, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-019-09305-z
  • Lowry, J. & Mnjama, N., A Proposal for Action on African Archives in Europe, in Lowry, J. (ed.) Displaced Archives, Routledge, 2017.

The following talks and events have seen discussions of archival displacement:

  • Invited talk on anticolonial archival pedagogy for Decolonising Archives session of Botany, Trade and Empire: Exploring Kew’s Miscellaneous Reports Collection, conference hosted by Black Cultural Archives and Royal Botanic Gardens, UK, 4 March 2021, virtual.
  • The Repatriation of Records: The Case of the Migrated Archive, invited talk at the University of Botswana, 12 November 2020, virtual.
  • Archives and Colonial Power, invited talk at University College London, 24 January 2020, London, UK.
  • Surfacing Provenance in Shared Archival Heritage workshop for the Forum of National Archivists, with Njörður Sigurðsson, Adelaide, Australia, 23 October 2019.
  • Developments Around the Migrated Archive since the Hanslope Disclosure, invited talk at the University of Botswana, 7 August 2019, Gaborone, Botswana.
  • Invited panellist, Round Table on Migrated Archives, CARBICA conference, 22-28 March 2019, Paramaribo, Suriname.
  • Invited speaker, Forum of National Archivists, November 2018, Yaounde, Cameroon.
  • Invited panellist, Round Table on Shared Archival Heritage, International Council on Archives annual conference, 26-28 November 2018, Yaounde, Cameroon.
  • Invited panellist and moderator,Sharing Past and Future: Strengthening African-European Connections’, 17-19 September 2018, Royal Library, Brussels, Belgium.
  • Lowry, J., Displaced Records and International Communities, invited lecture for the University of Pittsburgh MA Archives course, 23 July 2018. 
  • Lowry, J., Archives and Imperialism, invited talk to the Australian Society of Archivists, 29 May 2018, Melbourne, Australia
  • Lowry, J., A History of Displaced Archives (Post-Colonial), opening keynote at ICHORA, 28-30 May 2018, Melbourne, Australia.
  • Lowry, J., Disputed Archival Claims: Twenty Years After Auer’s RAMP Study, invited talk at 4th Croatia ICARUS Day & EURBICA Conference, 14-16 March 2018, Trogir,Croatia
  • Lowry, J., New Perspectives on Archival Displacement, Archives Disrupted, Association of Canadian Archives conference, 7–10 June 2017, Ottawa, Canada.
  • Lowry, J., International Collaboration on the Repatriation of Displaced Archives, Global Futures, Archives and Records Association Conference, 30 August – 2 September 2016, London, UK.
  • Banton, M., Lowry, J. & Hiribarren, V., The Postcolonial Problem of Displaced Archives,Archives and Society Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 15 March 2016, London, UK
  • Lowry, J., Archives at the End of Empire, Department of History Research Seminar, University of Liverpool, 14 December 2015, Liverpool, UK
  • Lowry, J., The Records of the Kenya Government: Migrated Archives, Digital Records and Access to Information. Standing Conference on Library Materials in Africa (SCOLMA) Seminar, 22 October 2013, Cambridge, UK