Online Archive – African Independence Days


Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz: Mainz, DE

The online archive “African Independence Days” consists of more than 20,000 images from twelve African countries. The research database comprises 16,000 photographs taken at various events of the independence day celebrations (independence-day parades, plays, concerts); 3,000 newspaper articles concerning the various independence days, and particularly the celebrations of fifty years of independence; 800 documents (posters, flyers, book pages, and brochures); and a collection of 150 objects (paraphernalia and merchandise). The illustrative material permits unique comparative insights into national celebrations in Africa. The descriptions and background data of the images are accessible in German or English. The database is the outcome of several research projects focusing on national independence celebrations at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies, University of Mainz. The documentation of the fiftieth anniversary of independence in Ghana (2007) was the starting point for comparative research on national-day celebrations in Africa. Between 2009 and 2013, a research group of six doctoral students at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies has been exploring the politics and aesthetics of national commemoration in Africa. In collaboration with a group of MA students, supervised by Carola Lentz, comparative research has been conducted on the golden jubilees of independence in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, and on the twentieth anniversary of independence in Namibia. The archival material is complemented by documentation of the fiftieth anniversary of independence in Tanzania (2011). The online archive will continue to collect material on Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana in the context of the follow-up research project “Marking Ethnic and National Differences in African National-day Celebrations” (2013–2016).
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