Challenges in digitising liberation archives: a case study
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The article reports on a study of the challenges facing a liberation archive which is attempting to digitise its collections and of how the Archive has responded to the challenges. The article is framed by the critical writing on digitisation which looks beyond the surface issues identified by technical and management research and uncovers the power contestations which arise as part of the digitisation process. It focuses particularly on whether the digitisation process alters the power relations within the Archive and between it and other role players within the South African context. The role-players include the state and the Archive’s external management, artefact copyright holders, digitisation vendors and organisations, and Archive users. The research investigates: the rationale for digitising archival collections; who the stakeholders in a digitisation project are, how they relate to each other and what the power relations between them are; the risks of digitisation; and the implications of selection of materials for digitisation. The research finds that personal connections, serendipity, ad-hoc behaviour, trust, distrust and the fear of exploitation has had an impact on the digitisation process; but concludes that the Archive has maintained its balance among competing interests to uphold its integrity.