“Guarding Against Forgetting – Breaking the Silence: A Story of Political Awakening and Activist Archives in South Africa”
Debora Matthews worked for seven years as Archival Coordinator in the Struggles for Justice Programme at the South African History Archive (SAHA), an independent activist and human rights archive in Johannesburg. SAHA is an independent human rights archive dedicated to documenting, supporting and promoting greater awareness of past and current struggles for justice through archival practices and outreach, and the access to information laws. Established by anti-apartheid activists in the 1980s, SAHA was closely connected in its formative years to the United Democratic Front, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the African National Congress. Matthews archived the Constitution Hill Collection at SAHA. Debra is now an Archives Consult working for the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI), developing and implementing a records and research data management system. She will also be working as a Contract Archivist at GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action Archives at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Debora will discuss the many roads she has traveled as a middleclass Afrikaans woman. In this quest she continues to better understand her Afrikaner roots, as well as better understand the decades of racial segregation under Nationalist government rule. She has come to terms with these two things through her work with activist archives as she continues to better comprehend the injustices done to millions of South Africans during apartheid. Her talk will be a glimpse into some of the most exciting and prolific activist archives in South Africa.