‘The Future of Literary Archives’

The long-awaited collection of essays reflecting the work of the Diasporic Literary Archives Network has now been published. Entitled The Future of Literary Archives (edited by David C. Sutton and Ann Livingstone), the book is published jointly by ARC Humanities Press and Amsterdam University Press. The contents reflect many of the themes and challenges which were pursued and developed by the Diasporic Literary Archives Network, and it is indicative that the book’s Index, in addition to referencing the many literary authors cited, has multiple entries for concepts such as “the politics of location”, “archival ethics”, “archival return” and “appropriateness of location”. Other major themes of the book include the market in literary archives, archives at risk, publishers’ archives, the particular case of Caribbean archives, digitisation and digital archives, the collecting of emails, translators’ papers, appraisal and selection, and cataloguing challenges.

The full list of contents is as follows:
* David C. Sutton: ‘Introduction: Literary Papers as the Most “Diasporic” of All Archives’
* Alison Donnell: ‘Caribbean Literary Archives and the Politics of Location: Challenging the Norms of Belonging’
* Maureen Roberts: ‘The Huntley Archives at London Metropolitan Archives’
* André Derval: ‘Conserving Private Literary and Editorial Archives: the Story of the IMEC’
* Jennifer Toews: ‘Migration, Freedom of Expression, and the Importance of Diasporic Literary Archives’
* Jens Boel: ‘The Universal Dimension of Diasporic Literary Archives’
* Veno V. Kauaria and David C. Sutton: ‘Namibian Literary Archives: New Beginnings and a Possible African Model’
* Sophie Heywood: ‘Francophone Archives at Risk’
* Daniela La Penna: ‘Italian Literary Archives: Legacies and Challenges’
* Trudy Huskamp Peterson: ‘Unknown/Unknowns and Known/Unknowns’
* Andrew Nash: ‘Publishers’ Archives, Authors’ Papers, and Literary Scholarship’
* Serenella Zanotti: ‘Diasporic Archives in Translation Research: A Case Study of Anthony Burgess’s Archives’
* David C. Sutton: ‘Conclusion: The Future of Literary Manuscripts – An International Perspective’

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International Archives Day 2018

9th June is the date of International Archives Day 2018.

All ICA members are invited to participate in IAD 2018, which is also ICA’s 70th birthday.

The IAD 2018 Communication Kit is available here.

David Sutton
Chair / Président

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Meetings of other ICA Sections in October 2018

SLA members may be interested in the upcoming meetings of our friends in two other ICA Sections.

SUV (the Section on University Archives) will be holding its conference in Salamanca, from 3-5 October 2018, with theme ‘What value do historical records in university archives add to universities’. See 2018 ICA/SUV Conference‐XXIV Jornadas CAU.

SPO (the Section on Sports Archives) will be holding its meeting a few days later, on 8-9 October 2018, in Girona.

SLA expects to be represented at the SPO meeting in Girona and to engage in discussions about matters of mutual interest, including directories of relevant repositories and collecting personal papers – sporting and literary.

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ICA’s 70th birthday

At the most recent meeting of the ICA Executive Board, held at the Château de Vincennes, on the outskirts of Paris, on 19th and 20th April 2018, all members of ICA were invited to use the official logo to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the organisation (1948-2018). The logo can be downloaded here.

The 70th year of ICA will be marked with the first ICA Annual Conference to be held in an African country. All SLA members will be warmly welcomed at the Annual Conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where the conference will be held from 26-29 November 2018.

We hope at the Yaoundé meeting to report back on progress with the SLA-led work on literary archives in Cameroon.

Please contact David Sutton – d.c.sutton@reading.ac.uk – if you wish to discuss the logistics of attending the Yaoundé conference, contributing to the programme, and/or meeting other SLA colleagues there.

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ICARUS and EURBICA joint conference, Trogir, Croatia

ICARUS Hrvatska, together with the ICARUS4all community (the International Centre for Archival Research), EURBICA (the European Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives), the State Archives of Split, and other partners, have organised the 4rd Croatia ICARUS days under the theme European archival landscape: Reaching out for new horizons. The conference will take place at the Hotel Medena, Trogir, Croatia, 14-16 March 2018.

This will be a joint conference between ICARUS and EURBICA – a major conference lasting for three days; and the ICA Section for Archives of Literature and Art (SLA) will participate in two strands of the conference: ongoing work on Safe Havens for Archives at Risk (a double session facilitated by SLA President David Sutton), and an introduction to the work of ICA for non-ICA members, in which the activities of SLA will be showcased as an example of how ICA Sections can conduct their business, with a particular emphasis on international solidarity.

The full programme of the joint conference can be accessed here.

Facebook subscribers can also use this link:

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Literary Archives in Cameroon

A two-day workshop on literary archives in Cameroon was held in Yaoundé on 13–14 February 2018, jointly organised by the Diasporic Literary Archives Network, the ICA Section for Archives of Literature and Art, the National Archives of Cameroon, and ESSTIC (the Advanced School of Mass Communication at the University of Yaoundé). The workshop was attended by authors, publishers, academics, archivists and students of archives studies and of publishing. All those present agreed on the desirability of beginning a programme leading to the development of literary archives collections in the National Archives, reflecting the rich and multi-lingual literary traditions and achievements of Cameroon. Participants also stressed the importance of oral literature and history in Cameroon, as well as the country’s strengths in cinematography.

At the close of the workshop, it was agreed to initiate a pilot project on collecting literary archives in Cameroon, and around 70 of the participants volunteered their time to work on the pilot project – a remarkable affirmation of support for this work. It is hoped that progress on the pilot project will be reported at the Annual Meeting of the International Council on Archives, which this year will be held in Yaoundé – from 26–29 November 2018.

The programme was closely based on the two-day workshop held in Windhoek, Namibia, two years earlier, and could be adapted for use in other countries, perhaps especially in Africa.

Program, Literary Archives Writers’ Workshop, Yaoundé [PDF,  136 KB]


The organisation of the two-day workshop at ESSTIC (École Supérieure des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information et de la Communication, Université de Yaoundé-2) benefitted from the support of ICA’s Africa Programme, and from generous financial assistance by ICA’s Programme Commission (PCOM). This support and assistance is gratefully acknowledged. On the work and priorities of PCOM, see the page headed Our Professional Programe on the main ICA website.

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Topics of Artistic and Literary Archives of the Caribbean

Panel 2 ALA-ICA joint Conference, Mexico City, 27 November 2017, 4:30 pm, Topics of Artistic and Literary Archives of the Caribbean: Diasporas, Gender Politics, Hidden Archives, Languages, Large and Small Islands and the Digital Future, presented by the Section for Literary and Artistic Archives (SLA)

Sebastian Gurciullo (Public Record Office Victoria, Australia)

Deborah Jenkins (ULP Archival Consultancy, U.K.)
David Sutton (SLA Chair, University of Reading, U.K.)
Heather Dean (University of Victoria, Canada)

Catherine Hobbs (Library and Archives Canada)

This conference session provided a multi-faceted view of literary and artistic archives of the Caribbean, their acquisition history and future prospects.

Our first speaker Heather Dean, building on Helena Leonce (Trinidad & Tobago), Cheryl Sylvester (Grenada) and Alison Donnell (U.K.), presented the acquisitions history and pressures for literary archives in the Caribbean during the latter half of the twentieth century.  Dean’s presentation linked the emergence of a rich vein of Caribbean literature to national independence achieved in Caribbean nations from the 1950’s to early 1970’s.  This movement also led to the establishment of national libraries, national archives and universities (particularly University of the West Indies campuses) across the region.  Central to the establishment of special collections was Dr. Kenneth Ramchand who led scholarship of Caribbean archives but also promoted acquisition of Caribbean literary archives in the home countries as institutions were being founded.  Global interest in Caribbean literary figures such as Derek Walcott and V.S. Naipaul has lead to competitive acquisition abroad, meaning that national repositories in the Caribbean now exist in a competitive cultural context.  Dean’s discussion also touched on the recovery of women’s voices and the interconnectedness between literature and other art forms such as dance and carnival.

Our second speaker Deborah Jenkins presented the archives linked to Black writing and publishing acquired by London repositories over the last three decades.  Jenkins elaborated the roles and collection emphases of the British Library and other active repositories, including The Black Cultural Archives (created in 1981 to address the imbalance in representation of Black people in Britain), the George Padmore Institute (established in 1991 to focus on the Black community of Caribbean, African and Asian descent in Britain and Europe) and London Metropolitan Archives.  Jenkins explored this growth of archival activities in a post-diasporic urban context where community ties and political action play a central role the literary activity.  She touched on the impact on these archives of the 1997-2007 cultural agenda in the U.K. and how these archives approach challenges of engagement and interaction.

Our final speaker David Sutton addressed recent developments in acquisition of Caribbean literary archives.  Sutton mentioned the key example of Cuba, the effect on archives of diasporic lives, the power of the market and the politics of location.  He addressed the role of U.S., Britain, Canada and France, in systematically collecting the archives of non-nationals, with a strong interest in Caribbean figures.  He presented the efforts of the Diasporic Literary Archives Network to address needs of migratory and split literary archives across the world, particularly around the politics of location and the possibilities of the digital.  He also detailed practical guidance provided to Caribbean repositories.  He shared recent success stories: the Monique Roffey papers now at UWI St Augustine and the Anthony C. Winkler papers at the National Library of Jamaica as well as the consolidation of the archives of Cuban writer/musicologist Alejo Carpentier from four separate repositories. Sutton suggested ways to elicit hidden archival threads (including women’s voices).  Finally, he addressed the ethical and practical considerations for dealing effectively with the politics of location including raising international awareness and respect for less wealthy nations, and the need for solidarity work with newer acquiring countries.

Thought points brought out from these discussions by Catherine Hobbs included:

  • the roles of art and literature in forming and maintaining culture
  • movements toward multiple diasporic movements in people’s lives creating more complex ideas of provenance and the politics of place
  • suppression and rediscovery of hidden women’s voices in macho cultural contexts
  • tensions inherent in post-colonial nations’ acquisitions policies around such cultural records (and the need to obviate tensions and interactions)
  • pressures of the global publishing economy and global scholarship on so-named “post-colonial literatures”
  • needs for archivists to intuit the appropriate place for these archives and consider innovative solutions drawing on the articulations of archives creators (concerning place and connections with other art forms).

Please feel free to contact the SLA Section Chair (David Sutton d.c.sutton@reading.ac.uk) if you would like further details on the discussion.

Posted on behalf of Catherine Hobbs

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