The Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage (EGSAH) was established by the International Council on Archives at its Congress in Seoul in September 2016. EGSAH provides a forum for discussion and ultimately the resolution of issues related to archives pertaining to the history and cultural heritage of more than one community, country or region where custody, ownership and access is unclear or in dispute. This may arise from war, military occupation, colonisation, the succession of states, or other adverse events. For further information about the group follow this link.
In November 2018, EGSAH presented its aims and objectives, together with examples of longstanding archival disputes, at the annual ICA conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon. A report of the panel was published in the ICA journal (Comma 2019, issue 1). Subsequently, EGSAH members agreed to compile a bibliography focusing on displaced (or migrated) archives; formal and informal claims by governments and by archivists, historians and other professional groups for the return of disputed archival collections or the free provision of digital copies, together with examples of bilateral solutions. It was to include information about the various surveys instigated to identify the range of claims, and the work at an international level undertaken over many decades by organisations such as the ICA, and its regional branches, and UNESCO. Initial work on the bibliography has revealed a wealth of relevant examples, scholarly debate, and accounts of attempts to address longstanding claims. Conversely, we have found relatively few examples of successful methods of addressing existing problems and establishing ways of ensuring genuine ‘sharing’. Furthermore, current geographical coverage is poor and requires expansion. Our initial plan was to annotate each entry with the names of the countries or regions involved, the causes of displacements, and whether or not solutions have been found. This has been done in a few cases but has proved difficult for a number of reasons. Many items are of a general rather than specific nature, causes can be difficult to identify, and the position may have changed since a particular article was written.
One or two items address the parallel topic of the return of museum artefacts to the countries from which they were acquired. Others concentrate on the comparatively new concern for the decolonisation of archives. There are two documentary films.
The bibliography as it stands has been put together by EGSAH members and their contacts, co-ordinated by Dr Mandy Banton. We are particularly grateful for the work done by Frank Jarman and Leila Ratcliff, MA students in the Centre for Archive Studies at the University of Liverpool, who were introduced to us by Dr. James Lowry.
The bibliography is a ‘work in progress’ which will be added to as further titles are identified. EGSAH will be grateful for notification of additional books, articles and other relevant material. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any addition you would like to make.