• An update on the disposition of the archives of the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda is available; see The Documentalist for a good summary, courtesy of James Simon. The fate of the archives has been a matter of particular international controversy. Report S/2009/258 from May 2009 outlines the issues and several options proposed by the UN working group charged with determining issues relating to the “residual mechanisms,” including future and referred prosecutions, witness protection, and other matters in addition to the archives. According to Simon, “This report is tremendously valuable, in that it a) states the case for the importance of the archives, b) provides a detailed description of the types of records generated by the Tribunals, and c) values and users of the Tribunal records. It also sets out recommendations of the activities that should be undertaken before the closure of the tribunals (identification of records to be permanently retained, declassifying as much as possible, transferring electronic records to the main archival database).”
  • The UNESCO Courier newsletter has just published an issue on the topic of “Memory and History,” and includes a variety of articles on archives and memory projects. In particular see a piece by Martín Almada, titled “The Man who Discovered the Archives of Terror,” who describes his search for and discovery of archives relating to Operation Condor. Almada, a former school teacher and principal who was tortured and imprisoned under dictator Alfredo Stroessner now heads the Foundation Celestina Perez de Almada which is devoted to human rights and the environment
  • Finally, I’ve just received a copy of the new book Documentary Testimonies: Global Archives of Suffering, a collection of ten essays edited by Bhaskar Sarkar and Janet Walker, both of UC Santa Barbara Department of Film and Media Studies. Topics include “technologies of capture, storage and circulation; problems of historical veracity/frail memory; generation of video archives–official, renegade, and ephemeral; limits and potentialities of documentary as public record; architectonics of memory; ethics of witnessing and commemoration; human rights and activist publics.” Essays discuss producing testimonies relating to the Rwandan genocide and Hurricane Katrina, the use of Google Earth to monitor the Darfur crisis, TV and radio broadcasting of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and more. Looking forward to diving in…

– Grace Lile

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