The Archival platform is a civil society initiative committed to deepening democracy through the use of memory and archives as dynamic public resources.

The team
(Left to right)Jo-Anne Duggan, Mbongiseni Buthelezi, Xolelwa Kashe-Katiya, Harriet Deacon, Brenton Maart, Dineo Skosana, Emile Maurice, Lucelle Campbell,Musa Hlatshwayo, Thokozani Mlambi,Nokhanyo Mhlana and Vuyani Booi.

The archival platform team

Jo-Anne Duggan is the director of the Archival Platform. She holds degrees in art and education from the University of Cape Town. Having become keenly engaged in the power of heritage in the 1980s, she participated in policy-making for the arts education, provincial and national heritage policies and worked with national heritage institutions and structures as well as community based heritage organisations. Duggan joined the Archival platform after a decade of working as a heritage development consultant.

Mbongiseni Buthelezi, is the Archival Platform's Ancestral Stories coordinator and has been jointly appointed by the Archival Platform and Department of English at the University of Cape Town. Buthelezi holds degrees in literary studies from the University of Kwa Zulu Natal and Columbia University. His PhD was on the uses of the oral artistic forms forms - izibongo (praise poetry), izithakazelo (clan praises) and amahubo (songs) to recall precolonial pasts among people who trace their histories to today's northern KwaZulu-Natal.


Xolelwa Kashe-Katiya, based in Pretoria, holds degrees from the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria. She has worked extensively in public and private sector organisations and agencies. Kashe-Katiya is currently enrolled for an MPhil. at UCT. Her research interests lie in the field of human remains and the contestation thereof in post-apartheid South Africa. Kashe-Katiya was Deputy Director of the Archival platform from 2010 to 2011.

Harriet Deacon (Ph.D. Cambridge) is a heritage consultant based in London, and a correspondent to the Archival Platform, currently running its twitter feed. She was the first Director of the Platform in 2009, after working in the heritage sector in South Africa for ten years. Her research focuses on cultural practice, heritage and health. She has written on traditional male circumcision, AIDS-related stigma, intangible heritage and heritage policy.

Thokozani Mhlambi, based in Johannesburg, is a musicologist who holds degrees from the University of Cape Town and who shifts between diverse creative genres, from classical music to sound art and display.  He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cape Town. His research project "Lalela Zulu": The Early Years of Black Radio Broadcast in South Africa ca 1940', fuses elements of critical theory and Africanist thought and philosophy with insights from the field of music scholarship.

Lucy Campbell, based in Cape Town, was sensitised to the damage associated with a one-sided narrative during the time she spent working at Iziko Museums of Cape Town.  Drawing on information collected during her ten years she began to research her own ancestry. She established Transcending History Tours, which takes visitors to museums and sites of memory, to offer a fresh, contemporary perspective on the lives of slaves and to affirm the contribution that they made to the social, economic, political and cultural life of Cape Town.

Emile Maurice, a curator, author and former teacher, has worked in the arts and culture and heritage sectors for many years. Based in Cape Town, he holds degrees from the University of Cape Town and Syracuse University, New York. A former employee of Iziko South African National Gallery and Heritage Agency, Maurice has been involved with a variety of projects and exhibitions over the years, and has also published widely in brochures, books and exhibition catalogues. He is currently a curator at the University of the Western Cape.

Musa Hlatshwayo, based in Durban, is an internationally recognized award winning performing artist, choreographer and theatre producer whose research based, socio-political and artistically groundbreaking productions have toured internationally. Hlatshwayo holds a BA Hons in performance studies from the University of KwaZulu Natal and is passionate about the role of the media, anthropology and the arts in modern day society.

Vuyani Gweki Booi, based in Alice in the Eastern Cape holds degrees from the Univeristy of Fort Hare (UFH) and the University of the Western Cape. As curator of collections at National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre at UFH, he focuses on the management of the declared cultural treasure and the archives of Liberation Movements of South Africa. Booi has been involved in various regional, national and international cultural heritage transformation projects, conferences and seminars.

Nokhanyo Mhlana, based in Mthatha, is an Advancement Creative at Transkei Land Service Organisation, holds a degree in Economics from the University of the Free State and diplomas from the Commercial Producers Association the Vega school of Advertising). She has worked on the production of TV/Radio commercials and in rural development with focus on lobbying and mobilisising for land rights in the rural Eastern Cape and food sovereignty. As a qualified Sangoma, she is also a custodians of culture, indigenous knowledge and heritage.

Dineo Skosana, based in Johannesburg, is a pre-Doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and is attached to the Local Histories- Present Realities' programme. Her research focuses on the relationship between chieftainship and local governance within the Kekana chiefdom in Vaaltyn, Limpopo. She has a particular interest in land claims in South Africa and cultural practises amongst different ethnic groups.

Brenton Maart, based in Cape Town, holds degrees from the University of the Witswatersrand and Rhodes University. An artist, writer and curator he has worked at the KZNSA Gallery, the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the Freedom Park Trust. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Curating the Archive at UCT. His Ph.D. project examines inadvertent monuments, ruins and palimpsests of apartheid in buildings located in previous South African homelands.

The archival platform

The Archival Platform is a civil society initiative committed to deepening democracy through the use of memory and archives as dynamic public resources. The Archival Platform was established by the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town and the Nelson Mandela Foundation (now Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory) in response to challenges raised by delegates to the 2007 National System, Public Interest conference. This dialogue, co-convened by the National Archives, the NMF and the Witwatersrand University's Constitution of Public Intellectual Life Research Project, was a high-profile attempt to draw attention to the growing crisis in the archive and resulted in an Open Report to the Minister of Arts and Culture, which sounded a very serious warning about the state of the national archival system. The Archival Platform is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies.

It is intended to play a catalytic role in the way in which practitioners, theorists and the general public think about the archive and the ways in which the process of archiving is practised in South Africa.

On one hand, the Archival Platform is intended to draw attention to the political and social role of archives in deepening democracy, encouraging the exercise of active citizenship, and facilitating the work of building social cohesion in a historically fractured society.  On the other, it is intended to address the specific concerns of the sector- the practical challenges of digitisation, poor communication and coordination, uneven or inadequate funding and training opportunities.

The Archival Platform focuses on the memory, cultural practices, artefacts, places as well as the documentary record of the country's history and the discourse around re/making the past in the present. At the heart of Archival Platform activity is a concern with the archive, the record of the past: the choices and decisions that are made about what is preserved and what it not; the systems that are used to safeguard the archive; the mechanisms through which decisions about what is accessible and what is restricted are made; the ways in which the archive is curated or brought into the public domain and; the purpose to which it is put.

In pursuit of its activities, the Archival Platform engages with a academics from a range of disciplines, record keepers, government employees, cultural workers, heritage professionals and practitioners, memory activists and theorists, archive creators and users, public and private institutions as well as with organisations and communities.

The key objectives of the Archival Platform are to:

  • Raise public awareness of the role and value of the archive, particularly in relation to social justice, the processes of reconciliation, redress and social cohesion and the exercise of democratic government;
  • Provide a mechanism through which new ideas and information can be shared and debated;
  • Facilitate organised, effective public engagement and intervention in the public interest wherever questions of archive are involved and;
  • Break down inhibiting barriers and encourage cross sectoral interaction;
  • Play a role in developing pro-active citizens empowered to draw on the archive as a resource for interrogating the past, shaping the present and imagining the future.

The Archival Platform intends to achieve its objectives through a strategy that involves networking, advocacy and research and the development of tightly focused, high profile public interventions.

The Archival Platform was established by the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town and the Nelson Mandela Foundation (now Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory) and is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies