I am copying and pasting from my email discussion with my International Librarian’s Network partner, Bekti Mulatiningsih from Indonesia.
With regards Censorship and the archives:
During the previous regime of Apartheid in South Africa they had very strict censorship laws in place. The archives used to delete or damage all the material that were in contravention of the censorship laws of the time. A lot of material was lost. Now the archives sometime have to buy material back from other organizations who also filmed the same historical events.
My own thoughts on this is that they should have kept the material, but with a note on it. After the bans were lifted, they could have changed the restrictions on the material.
See the blog post about the music that was censored in the Record Library: Searching for Sugarman.
Searching for Sugarman was awarded the best documentary at the Oscars this year. The SABC archives get a mention in the movie.
Who did the damage to the recordings? The archivists themselves!
Another though about archivists and censorship. We are daily busy with a form of censorship by our mere choice of which material to keep and which to throw it. Also by the way we assign more importance to one collection and giving more attention to it. The shear volume of the archives make it impossible to catalogue it all.
I am the only archivist assigned to catalogue a radio station’s programmes. Because of my own affinity towards certain programmes and themes, I am daily doing a form of censorship. The previous archivist concentrated more on certain programmes. I am concentrating more on other material that I am focusing on. I can only hope that I am selecting the right programmes in years to come.
Time will tell!