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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Douglas Johnson on South Sudan’s archives

On 18 February 2013, RVI Fellow Douglas Johnson gave a lecture on the role of archives in nation building, based on his 40-year experience of working with Southern government archives and his recent work with RVI on rescuing, rehabilitating, and digitizing the remaining archives of South Sudan. ‘The current holdings of the National Archive project,’ he said, ‘span a century of Southern history and contain key documents of political, economic, and cultural importance, including the founding documents of Southern political parties and the beginnings of Southern political thought on separation and independence.’ ‘The archives,’ he added, ‘also contain documents that can, read carefully, help reconstruct sections of the disputed North-South international border, potentially acting as a substitute for a non-existent definitive map of the 1956 border.’ Dr Johnson is the author of The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars and When Borders Become Boundaries (in the RVI Contested Borderlands series).

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