Reuters: Kenyan museum, Mau Mau fighter shed light on British colonial abuses. “The camps, where tens of thousands are thought to have died, are a traumatic but largely forgotten part of Kenya’s past. They were set up to jail activists and sympathisers during the Mau Mau uprising of 1952-1960, in which [Gitu Wa] Kahengeri, born in the 1920s and a Secretary General of the independence movement’s Veterans Association, participated. Using eye-witness accounts, documents and field visits, Kenyan and British historians from the Museum of British Colonialism are now building an online archive of the period, complete with 3D recreations of some of the camps.”
Wired: The Digital Colonialism Behind .tv and .ly. “As companies increasingly turn to quirky extensions in place of .com, these questions about ownership and national resources are all the more pressing. The nation of Tuvalu (pop: 10,000), for example, has seen a rapid rise in the popularity of its .tv domain—it’s now up to 512,000 registrations—after the Amazon-owned streaming service Twitch started using it in its own URL: Twitch.tv. Tuvalu’s situation is more nuanced than Niue’s. The nation only discovered that it had a top-level domain when, in 1995, it received a fax from an American offering to help market it. When Tuvaluans investigated, they discovered that the .tv domain had already been assigned to an American computer programmer.”
The Guardian: ‘They’re not property’: the people who want their ancestors back from British museums. “On 20 March this year, more than 150 years after they were cut from the corpse of the Ethiopian emperor Tewodros II by a British soldier, two locks of hair were returned by the National Army Museum in London after a request from Addis Ababa. A few days later, Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja signed an agreement to repatriate thousands of artefacts, including a number of skulls, to the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island. And in April, German institutions will conduct their largest ever transfer of remains to Australia, involving 53 items from five sites in Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin. This follows a ‘joint declaration on the handling of colonial collections’ by ministers from all 16 German states, which argued that human material ‘does not belong’ behind glass.”
The Guardian: Diary of explorer David Livingstone’s African attendant published. “The diary of an African attendant on the Scottish explorer David Livingstone’s final journey into the continent has been published online, containing the only handwritten witness account of the the Victorian missionary’s death in 1873. The manuscript was written by Jacob Wainwright, a member of the Yao ethnic group from east Africa and the only African pallbearer at the explorer’s funeral in Westminster Abbey in 1874.”
British Library: British Empire maps of Africa added online. “Around the turn of the 20th century the British War Office in London maintained a library of original, mostly hand-drawn mapping that covered large parts of the world where detailed and reliable surveys were not otherwise available. The maps were gathered from a rich variety of sources including military expeditions, boundary commissions, explorers, travellers, missionaries and spies, and they were used by the War Office for making and revising official printed products.”
Al Jazeera: The path to colonial reckoning is through archives, not museums. “As the French President Emmanuel Macron tours East Africa, he is certain to get a cordial welcome. If everything goes to plan, it will be all smiles and few uncomfortable questions. However, this should not be the case. Macron has called for an international conference on the return of African art and artefacts looted during colonialism. But art and artefacts are not the only things that should be returned.”
The Round Table: The RCS celebrates 150 years with a new digital archive. “The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) has made public a digital archive of its history as it marks its 150th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of its library and archives becoming part of Cambridge University Library. The society was formed in 1868 as the Colonial Society to promote knowledge and appreciation of Britain’s overseas territories. As the RCS website stated ‘it was conceived of as an intellectual endeavour where papers would be presented at meetings and published in the society’s journals, and the creation of a research library was at the heart of the project’.”
ABC News (Australia): New map records massacres of Aboriginal people in Frontier Wars. “After years of painstaking research, an online map marking the massacres of Aboriginal clans across Australia’s colonial frontier has launched. More than 150 sites have been recorded along the east coast, where violent attacks on Aboriginal people took place for decades after the First Fleet arrived.”
University of Queensland: PNG history makers tell their stories. “A new website hosting interviews with prominent Papua New Guineans on the period leading up to and following that nation’s independence from Australia in 1975 has been launched today.”
The National Library of Israel has created a new online exhibit called Napoleon Was Here!. From the splash page: “Having subdued Italy, Napoleon Bonaparte turned his gaze to Egypt as the next target of expansion. He believed that the Land of the Nile was the gateway to conquering the East, and in 1798 he set out to prove it to himself and to the world. The National Library contains a unique collection of more than 1000 documents from Napoleon Bonaparte’s time with his army in Egypt (1798-1801). Join us on Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt and the Holy Land.” I’ve linked to the English version. It takes a while to load on my crummy Internet, but it’s well done.
The New York Times: Using Stealth, and Drones, to Document a Fading Hong Kong. “Three masked explorers appeared atop an apartment tower in Hong Kong’s North Point district and sent a black drone flying, over a clothesline, until it was buzzing more than 10 stories above the cars, trams and pedestrians on the street below. If history was any guide, the explorers said, the building the drone was filming — a 1952 theater with unusual roof supports — would eventually be demolished because it is not on Hong Kong’s list of declared monuments.”
France is using crowdsourcing to add African perspectives to French colonial West Africa. “France’s National Archives have invited people in some 100 cities nationwide to donate memorabilia – such as letters, photos and notebooks – linked to France’s role in West Africa in the 19th and 20th century. The operation, known as La Grande Collecte, aims to enrich the memory of the colonial period, adding the personal touch that’s currently lacking.” This is the third iteration of La Grande Collecte.
The ‘Archive of Yogyakarta’ refers to a collection of some four hundred manuscript documents in Javanese dating from 1772 to 1813, originating from the court of Yogyakarta. A highly important source for the political, economic, social, administrative and legal history of central Java in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the archive comprises official reports, letters, accounts and other documents as well as the private papers of Sultan Hamengkubuwana II (r. 1792-1810, 1811-1812, 1826-1828) and his successor Sultan Hamengkubuwana III (r. 1812-1814).
The British Library has put online military intelligence maps of British East Africa. “With generous funding from the Indigo Trust the British Library has published online over 550 colonial-era military intelligence maps relating to the former British East Africa: modern-day Kenya and Uganda, and adjacent parts of Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. The sheets were created between 1890 and 1940, and comprise sketches, surveys and hand-drawn finished maps held at the British Library in the so-called War Office Archive.”