UCLA Library Program Announces New Projects to Digitize and Document Activism, Political Expression and Communal Memory Around the World

The Modern Endangered Archives Program's second cohort broadens its global reach at a time when such efforts are dwindling.

In this period of great uncertainly, access to primary sources that include the voices of people and communities often left out of national histories and global narratives of progress can help expand understanding and empathy. These voices can be a spark for social justice and societal change. UCLA Library's Modern Endangered Archives Program (MEAP) was set up in 2018 with support from Arcadia, a charitable trust of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and is dedicated to digitizing and making accessible endangered archival materials from the 20th and 21st Centuries, including print, photographic, film, audio, ephemeral, and born digital objects. The program is well positioned to empower communities working to preserve, document, and curate these important collections and to provide people around the world with the ability to view cultural heritage materials not as isolated objects, but alongside other modern history collections.photo of Pnar Women's Weekly Market, Meghalaya, India, by Ahmed Hossain

MEAP is proud to announce its second worldwide cohort of digitization and documentation projects that will move these goals forward. The MEAP Review Board has recommended 22 projects for full funding, 10 Planning Grants and 12 Project Grants.

This year's funded projects will digitize and organize collections that document multiple themes, including activism around human rights, ecological justice and women's movements; visual history of public space and indigeneity; and memory of displaced peoples and lost spaces. The overlapping themes cross many borders, drawing attention to the ways in which communities fight to create and preserve unique identities and traditions or articulate and promote political ideas.

For example, a project to digitize the archive of photographer Mohlouoa T. Ramakatane will preserve a formal visual history of the Royal Family of Lesotho, as well as the photographer's own history of activism in South Africa. A project in Brazil to digitize the archive of the Diocesan Curia of Nova Iguaçu will document Brazil's progressive Catholic Church during the military dictatorship (1964-1985), as well as social movements and resistance to authoritarianism. A project in Peru will digitize the archive of the national organization of peasants and indigenous people, the Confederación Campesina del Perú (CCP), preserving flyers, posters, and letters that trace international connections between human rights initiatives. A project in Malaysia will inventory a collection of artistic expression and institutional efforts to build alliances across the country's contemporary climate of racial politics. Once digitized and made accessible, these collections can provide insight into the ways people experience resistance, loss, hope, and community from different sites and cultures. First Women's Congress" flyer credit to The Peruvian Peasant Confederation Archive

The new slate of MEAP projects also reflects a growth in the program's geographic reach and will expand the MEAP digital collection to include 13 additional countries. In only two rounds of grants, MEAP has funded the preservation and documentation of cultural heritage materials from 25 countries, securing the long term sustainability of cultural objects from Latin and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia and Southern Europe.

MEAP is funded by Arcadia—a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. It supports charities and scholarly institutions that preserve cultural heritage and the environment. Arcadia also supports projects that promote open access and all of its awards are granted on the condition that any materials produced are made available for free online. Since 2002, Arcadia has awarded more than $678 million to projects around the world.

These 22 projects are recommended for funding:

Project Grants
The Peruvian Peasant Confederation Archive (Confederación Campesina del Perú): Rural and Indigenous Society, National Politics, and International Solidarity

Host Institution: Confederación Campesina del Perú
Project Lead: Charles Walker, UC Davis (US)

The Confederación Campesina del Perú (CCP), was founded in 1947 and has defended the rights of rural and indigenous people throughout the twentieth century. The CCP archive documents the organization's history, including its national congresses, efforts to incorporate women's groups, and correspondence with foreign human rights organizations and political parties as well as a collection of denunciations by rural people. This project will digitize the archive, focusing on administrative documents, flyers, posters, magazines, books, and audiovisual materials.

Digitization of Justice court files under authoritarian regimes in Amazonia (Brazil)

Host Institution: Universidade Federal do Oeste do Para
Project Lead: Emilie Stoll, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) (France) and Dr. Gefferson Ramos Rodrigues, Associate Professor, Universidade Federal do Oeste do Para (UFOPA) (Brazil)

Documents from the Court of Justice from the Lower Amazon region, in Óbidos, Brazil, date from the end of the so-called 'Old Republic' (1900-1930), chronicling several authoritarian governments, from the coup of Getulio Vargas (1930) until the end of the military dictatorship (1964-1988). The collection documents the daily life of Amazonian people in a time of restricted individual rights as well as Brazil's engagement in international issues and in authoritarian national projects aiming at "modernizing" Amazonia. This project will digitize these records, making them available for the people of Amazonia and the world.

The Photographer who woke up from the Dead—Mohlouoa T. Ramakatane (Lesotho)

Host Institution: Photography Legacy Project
Project Lead: Paul Weinberg, Curator of the Photography Legacy Project

Mohlouoa T. Ramakatane, born in 1937, is considered to be the portraitist of Lesotho. This project will digitize his archive, including papers, photographs, and negatives to document his 50+ year career taking portraits in the country and as the official portraitist of the royal family. The archive also contains evidence of his activist work in Lesotho and South Africa.

Recovering the Confucian Periodicals in Indonesia

Host Institution: Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies, Gadjah Mada University
Project Lead: Evi Sutrisno, Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies, Gadjah Mada University

Confucian materials printed in the Malay language document the development of early Confucian communities and communal strategies to align the Confucian religion towards monotheism across Indonesia. These printed materials, including periodicals and magazines as well as books and documents, were used to promote the Confucian theological concepts and religious characters. During the New Order regime (1966-1988), Indonesia placed restrictions on Chinese culture and religion and these periodicals were often concealed or destroyed by the Chinese temples that held collections. This project will digitize collections from three sites in Indonesia.

Surprise!: Photo Jack Imaging Lebanon's Passers-by, Public and Private Lives

Host Institution: Arab Image Foundation, Lebanon
Project Lead: Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh, Arab Image Foundation

The Photo Jack collection, held by the Arab Image Foundation (Lebanon) comes from the Photo Jack photography studio (1939-1997 in Tripoli, Lebanon) and includes different photographic practices ranging from photo surprise in public space to reportage from private evens. The images show the diversity of northern Lebanon and its communities across religious, ethnic, cultural and class lines. The project will focus on digitizing the collection's Film Drawers which contain 1250 rolls of 35mm film and constitute approximately 45,000 photographs.

Digitization of the Diocesan Curia of Nova Iguaçu's Archive (Brazil)

Host Institution: Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro
Project Leads: Alexandre Fortes and Jean Rodrigues Sale, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

The Diocesan Curia of Nova Iguaçu (ACDNI) was a center of Brazil's progressive Catholic Church during the military dictatorship (1964-1985). The ACDNI archival collection documents this period, including printed materials of ecclesiastical matters as well as the social struggles of the working-class suburbs of Rio de Janeiro known as the Baixada Fluminense, social movements in the region, resistance to authoritarianism, and liberation theology. This project will digitize selected collections from the archival holdings.

Rescuing Zik's Library: Preserving the Nnamdi Azikiwe Papers (Nigeria)

Host Institution: Vanderbilt University
Project Leads: Mark Reeves, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (US) and Moses Ochonu, Vanderbilt University (US)

The personal papers of Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria, are currently held in his personal library in his family's home in Nsukka, Nigeria and include a draft of his memoirs, state papers from his presidency (1960-1966), and political papers related to the Republic of Biafra. The collection also includes materials from Azikiwe's two presidential campaigns in 1979 and 1983 as well as rare books and newspapers. This project will digitize these materials, contributing an important set of primary materials to the study of both Nigeria and Biafra.

Digitization and description of the film collection of the news program "El Mundo al Dia" (Dominican Republic)

Host Institution: Archivo General de la Nación (Dominican Republic)
Project Leads: Grismeldis Pérez and Ana Fernández, National Archive of the Dominican Republic

The news program "El Mundo al Dia" was broadcast from 1965 to 1980 on the first television channel of the Dominican Republic. The show's archival materials, including 396 16mm films, document significant historic events during the Cold War in the Dominican Republic, including the coup d'état to the president Juan Bosch, a civil war, the military intervention of the United States on Dominican territory in 1965, Joaquin Balaguer's 12-year regime, and the popular uprising known as "La Poblada de Abril" in 1984. This project will digitize the films and make them accessible for viewers around the world.

Citizen action for the defense of human rights in Chile: Personal Fonds

Host Institution: Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Chile
Project Lead: Maria Luisa Ortiz, Museum of Memory and Human Rights

This project will digitize materials from the Museum of Memory and Human Rights collections that document the denunciation, protection, prosecution and fight against the dictatorship in Chile as well as the effort to recover democracy. Digitization will focus on four personal collections: Raúl Ampuero, Marcelo Croxatto, Sergio Insunza and Patricia Verdugo. These collections includes minutes of meetings, correspondence, brochures, legal documents, press, publications, flyers, posters and audiovisuals.

Projet Archives des Femmes (Mali)

Host Institution: Columbia University
Project Leads: Gregory Mann, Columbia University (US) and Oumou Sidibé, City College of New York (US)

The Projet Archives des Femmes preserves thousands of endangered papers and photographs belonging to a generation of Malian women who undertook anti-colonial activism in the 1950s and feminist social reform projects in the following decades. this project will digitize materials that have already been collected related to issues such as marriage rights, labor equity and access to health care.

Artefacts of a Nation's Birth—Preserving the Newspapers of Kenya's Transition From Colony to Nation

Host Institution: Book Bunk Trust, Kenya
Project Leads: Angela Wachuka, Book Bunk Trust, Chao Maina, African Digital Heritage, and Jenny Noble, Glasgow Women's Library

The McMillan Memorial Library in Kenya holds a newspaper collection that documents significant moments in Kenyan national history, including daily reports of the Mau Mau State of Emergency, the independence movement, political assassinations, post-independent national formation and socio-cultural events from 1963-2010. This project will digitize the most endangered parts of this newspaper collection.

African Studies Ibadan Audiovisual and Arabic Manuscripts Archives (Nigeria)

Host Institution: Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Project Leads: Ayo Adeduntan and Akinade Jimoh, University of Ibadan

An audiovisual archive held at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ibadan documents a range of rites, performances, and historical events as well as recorded oral histories that describe life and practices from Nigeria and West Africa more broadly. These original recordings include an Ozid epic of the Ijaw, Urhobo Udjesongs, Yoruba Geleda, theaters of Duro Ladipo. Some materials, especially celluloid and Ajami scripts, have already been lost to age and inadequate storage. This project will digitize and preserve the remaining items.

Planning Grants
Valorization, recover and digitization of the local archives of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo: an initial step towards open access (Argentina)

Host Institution: Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Argentina)
Project Leads: Marcelo Pablo Castillo and Milena Duran, Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo

The Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo remains an active organization with over forty years of work advocating and searching for the kidnapped children during the last military dictatorship in Argentina. This project will survey and create an inventory of the organization's archival materials, focusing particularly on the collections of four subsidiary offices around the country. By highlighting collections outside the urban centers of the country, this project will document ongoing human rights work across Argentina.

The archives of the women's movement in Sudan, 1940-2010

Host Institution: Institut des Mondes Africains (France)
Project Leads: Elena Vezzadini, Institut des Mondes Africains (France) and Mahassin Abdel Galil, University of Bahri (Sudan)

The project will survey collections held by leading figures of the women's movement in the Republic of Sudan and generate documentation related to the history of feminine and feminist movements that developed from the 1940s in the capital and three major urban centers (El Obeid, Wad Medani, Atbara). The women's movement in Sudan has been left out of the country's historiography, erasing women's ongoing centrality to the country's history and the recent civilian revolution. This project is part of an effort to create an accessible archive that can make women's contribution to the political and social life of Sudan more visible.

Memories from no-man's land: Archives of the Peruvian self-defense militias

Host Institution: Ghent University (Belgium)
Project Lead: Eva Willems, Ghent University

Peasants in Peru set up self-defense groups in response to the Maoist rebel group, Shining Path, and to the repression of the state forces. This project will survey an archive from a network of these self-defense militias that documents the everyday organization, internal communication, strategies and intelligence services of these militia groups. The project includes the participation of ex-militia members.

Memories of Resistance: A Digital Archive of Chile's Graphic Resistance

Host Institution: University of Liverpool (UK)
Project Leads: Marieke Riethof and Richard Smith, University of Liverpool

The Tallersol Cultural Centre was created in Santiago in 1977 by a collective of artists, cultural activists and political opponents as a means of resisting military repression in Chile. This project will catalogue graphic design, including posters, bulletins, postcards, leaflets, and pamphlets for human rights, political, social and cultural organizations from the Center.

Playing Relative: Alliance-Making in Urban Malaysia

Host Institution: Malaysia Design Archive
Project Leads: Ezrena Marwan, Sunway University and Simon Soon, University of Malay

This project will survey and create an inventory of two collections focused on alliance-making in contemporary Malaysia: the photo media artist Yee I-Lann's collection of print material, photographs and film negatives, and performance artist and educator Ray Lagenbach's collection of video, news clippings and print material. These collections document two decades of counterculture practices that cross boundaries of racial, language and genre communities and occurred across multiple Malaysian cities, a coming together rarely witnessed in Malaysia's contemporary climate of racial politics.

Visual Histories of Northeast India

Host Institution: UCLA
Project Lead: Aparna Sharma, UCLA

Northeast India remains home to many indigenous communities and has been targeted by India's current political environment. This project includes survey, inventory, copyright and permission determination of two visual materials collections from the region. The first, a photographic collection by photographer Ahmed Hossain, depicts the socio-cultural life of Northeast India's tribal communities between the 1960s-early 2000s. The second collection includes three, 16mm documentaries by the anthropologist, Verrier Elwin who worked in Northeast India from the 1950s-60s.

Preserving Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis: The Role of Social Media

Host Institution: Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship
Project Leads: Kristin Parker, Boston Public Library (US) and RAsha Kanjarawi, Museum for Islamic Art, Berlin (Germany)

Social media applications, including Facebook, Instagram, and Tripadvisor, have become essential platforms for displaced communities seeking to commemorate their lost homes and remain connected. This project will identify and survey virtual cultural heritage collections, seen as commemorative community archives, created by Aleppians and other Syrians who have been forcibly displaced from their homes.

Conserving the Archives of Progressive Pakistan

Host Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (UK)
Project Leads: Mahvish Ahmad, London School of Economics and Political Science (UK) and Muhammad Salim Khawaja, South Asia Resource and Research Center (Pakistan)

Muhammad Salim Khawaja has amassed a vast collection of books, pamphlets, documents, audiovisual materials, and other objects documenting Pakistan's progressive movements at the South Asia Resource and Research Center in Islamabad. This project will create a thorough inventory of the print, audio, and video items housed at the Center. This inventory will allow researchers and others to locate materials in the collection, including court cases against democratic activists, journals, pamphlets of collectives opposing military rule, oral history interviews of feminists and agrarian activists, and social justice documentaries on minority Christians. It also includes folk literature in vernaculars like Punjabi and Sindhi by artists challenging the dominance of the national Urdu language.

The Biobio Legacy: Mapuche-Pehuenche Organizing and Resistance in Chile

Host Institution: ONG Camino de Tierra (Chile)
Project Lead: Cristian Opaso, ONG Camino de Teirra

This project will survey and create an inventory of photographic and audio material as well as some original print documents and non-edited video from the local and national struggle against the construction of hydroelectric dams in Chile's historic Bíobío River. Materials include photographs of meetings and protests, audio recordings of a bilingual radio program related to the environmental justice action, and original documents of Mapuche-Pehuenche organizations.

Survey and Digital Preservation of Upcountry Tamil Archival Records

Host Institution: Noolaham Foundation (Sri Lanka)
Project Leads: Thamilini Jothilingam, Noolaham Foundation (Sri Lanka) and Kandiah Thanabalasingam, Malayagam.lk (Sri Lanka)

The Upcountry (Hill Country) Tamils, are the descendants of nineteenth-century Indian laborers brought to Sri Lanka to work on the country's British-owned tea, coffee, and rubber plantations. The community remains in Sri Lanka and continues to face political disenfranchisement and state-sponsored discrimination. This project will survey existing archival records, commemorative publications, and historical photographs created by Sri Lanka's Upcountry Tamils since 1948.


 

Top Image: "Pnar Women's Weekly Market, Meghalaya, India" photograph by Ahmed Hossain
Middle Image: “From one of the first meetings of the Mapuche-Pehuenche Center in the early 90s," credits to Cristian Opaso.
Bottom Image: "First Women's Congress" credit to The Peruvian Peasant Confederation Archive (Confederación Campesina del Perú)