On the 9th and 10th of March 2020 the Centre for Curating the Archive hosted the third Digital Humanities workshop for the Afridig programme at the Hiddingh Campus of the University of Cape Town. Members of the APC took part in the workshop and presented on the state of their project, the Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA), together with the other two partner projects, the Bleek and Lloyd Archive, and Metsemegologolo. The Rock Art Archive was present as external partner.

The workshop was the third in a series that started in July 2019 and explored cooperation between projects that share the commitment to producing archival and research material that are digitally accessible, and for innovating digital tools for use by both academic and non-specialised users. The objective of the workshop was to begin building an effective research consortium and to learn from one other’s practices.

Each project reported on their work since the second Afridig workshop in October 2019, showing steady progress. Pippa Skotnes, Hussein Suleman, and Niek de Greef presented on the digitisation that has led to the New Digital Bleek and Lloyd, and the first of a series of ‘Curations’ envisaged to enlighten specific aspects or themes of the archive.

Carolyn Hamilton, Debra Pryor, Benathi Marufu, Hussein Suleman, and Niek de Greef spoke for the FHYA, explaining the two sides of the project: one based on open source ATOM software, another self-developed and called eMandulo. The main objective of the project is to build infrastructure that enables searching across the digitised collections of multiple archival institutions at once, and that tracks the custodial history of the items. Similar to the Bleek and Lloyd Archive, the FHYA is also working on the concept of ‘Curations’ as entry points on a single theme or group of sources. The experimental curations by Henry Fagan and Daniel Dix were displayed.

Stefania Merlo, Justine Wintjes and Anton Coetzee presented on the progress of Metsemegologolo, an archaeological project based at Wits that aims at building a digital archive from a new excavation site. Stefania explained the work that is being done at Seoke, one of the capitals of the Bangwaketse in the last decades of the eighteenth century. In a cross-project exercise, Justine and Anton presented their digital curation on uMgungundlovu, showing the mapping software that they are using. Azizo da Fonseca spoke for the Rock Art Archive (SARADA) and suggested a collaboration with Pippa Skotnes on the figure of George W. Stow.

A substantial part of the workshop was spent in discussing a common terminology and common practices. Hussein Suleiman discussed the possibilities of developing a shared standard of metadata in order to facilitate the communications between the individual projects. Curations were signalled as a common tool. It was agreed to strengthen the cooperation towards the July national workshop which will be hosted by the funders and where the three projects will report for on their activities and outputs.

Third Afridig Workshop at UCT’s Hiddingh Campus. Photo courtesy of Rifqah Kahn.