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Centre for Critical Archives & Records Management Studies


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Archive for September, 2022

Introducing the UK Migrated Archive Seminar and Workshop Series

By Anna Sexton, on 20 September 2022

The UCL Migrated Archives Working Group was established in March 2022, born out of a desire to raise awareness on issues connected to the displacement of archives resulting from Britain’s former colonial entanglements.

The Group was formed out of a commitment to spur action from UK archivists about the Migrated Archives (FCO 141), a series of records removed from 37 of Britain’s former colonies and held in secret by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for decades, before they were transferred to the UK National Archives  in 2012/13.

These removals are well known, despite the denials of the UK government. The secrecy around migrated archives only came to light after the Foreign Office finally acknowledged the existence of its secret archive in Hanslope Park near Milton Keynes, during litigation brought on behalf of Mau Mau veterans at the High Court in London in 2011.

As well as direct action in the form of actively working towards the repatriation of the Migrated Archives to affected countries and holding the Foreign Office and National Archives UK to account on issues surrounding these archives, one of the current strands of work is a five part weekly online seminar and workshop series starting on 19th October to raise awareness and activate British Archivists on issues connected to the repatriation of the Migrated Archives.

The broad aims of the series are to:

  • Raise awareness around the issues, challenges and ethics surrounding the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Migrated archives
  • Centre the perspectives of Archivists from affected countries
  • Promote and provide opportunities to be involved in reparative action

In this series we will introduce, contextualise and examine the issues, challenges and ethics surrounding the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Migrated Archives; hear from Archivists and Academics from affected countries talk about the issues, challenges and ethics of this archival displacement from their perspective and what it means for their national history, heritage and memory in their countries and what UK archivists can do to address this injustice; hear about examples of repatriation of colonial records from outside of the UK; hold a Wiki-thon as an opportunity for us to get involved in wiki edits related to Displaced and Migrated Archives, and finally look at concrete ways that British Archivists can be involved in bringing about change, including writing to MPs and calling on leading bodies to endorse or adopt the ACARM Position Paper.

We have some excellent speakers lined up, so do come and join us, for further information and booking details please visit the Centre for Critical Archives and Records Management Studies’ events page.

The Migrated Archives Working Group is led by Dr Anna Sexton (UCL), Dr James Lowry (Queens College, City University of New York) and Dr Mandy Banton (Institute of Commonwealth Studies) and brings together a group of students from UCL’s MA in Archives & Records Management’s 2021/2022 cohort.

Blog Post by: Alia Carter

Migrated Archives Working Group Member