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Accepted Contribution:

The impossible archive: Coming to terms with the past through an inaccessible colonial archive  
Enkelejda Sula-Raxhimi (Saint Paul University)

Contribution short abstract:

This paper asks how an inaccessible archive could become a subject of healing, knowledge sharing and recognition by discussing the case of the French colonial archive concerning Haiti.

Contribution long abstract:

Haiti, the former French colony of Hispaniola, gained its hard enslaved-fought independence in 1804, leading to the formation of the world’s first black Republic. The French left shortly after, taking with them Haiti’s entire colonial archive. Ever since, Haitian and other researchers should consult or conduct research in the National archives de la France d’Outre-mer, which are located in France and host the colonial archives of French territories outside of France, including former and current colonies.

But how to learn from and reconcile with the past, when the past is still kept under tight lead by the former colonial power? How to heal and repair when the archives are located in another continent thousands of miles away? How to learn and heal when Haitian people do not have an easy access to the knowledge about their own past? How to come to terms with the past, when it is almost exclusively studied, written, and discussed from a colonial point of view?

In this paper, we would like to take a radical and decolonial stand and discuss the implications that the (in)accessibility of the archives have in learning, healing, and coming to terms with the past. This paper asks how an inaccessible archive could become a subject of healing, knowledge sharing and recognition by discussing the case of the French colonial archive concerning Haiti.

Roundtable RT132
What is a living archive?
  Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -