Documenting Documentation Practices in Rwanda: Your Assistance Please!
Next Friday, May 21, 2010 I will be heading to Kigali, Rwanda, where I will engage in two weeks of field work investigating how human rights groups there document their work. Like my trip to Mexico in February, this trip is part of CRL’s larger “Human Rights Electronic Evidence Study.” The general purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of “life on the ground” for a variety of human rights organizations and how that affects their documentation practices. An ultimate goal in this work is to provide profiles of strategies that help organizations meet their immediate goals, as well as to think about how the variety of documentation that gets collected can serve long term work in scholarship, legal proceedings, and policy-making at local, national, and international levels. Hopefully, this work will engender and support dialogue between human rights organizations on the one hand, and larger institutions such as libraries and intergovernmental organizations on the other so that creative strategies can be developed for catloguing and preserving these valuable materials.
A call for input/advice/help
As with my first trip to Mexico, my task in Rwanda will be to actually see documentation practices in action and better understand why and how a variety of human rights groups collect and save (or not) the materials they need for their work. Unlike my Mexico trip, however, I have no clear idea of which groups I will actually get to visit, with one exception–I am traveling with colleagues from The University of Texas Libraries who work closely with the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center on a ground-breaking collaboration focused on digitizing and archiving the center’s physical collections of genocide materials. See the post on UT Human Rights Archiving and Glifos for a brief overview of the work they have been doing there. I will spend part of my time in Kigali helping my UT colleagues as I can with their work and learning as much as possible bout the center’s collections and preservation efforts. I look forward to reporting on what I learn when I return.
However, beyond this one “sure-thing” site, I have nothing else fixed at this point. Rwanda is apparently a seat-of-your-pants kind of place-at least according to the few people I’ve been able to talk to so far, and this is just the first of many cultural differences that impact how we understand documentation practices around the world. So, in fine anthropological fashion, I will arrive and start knocking on doors. Thus, readers, if you know of groups or individuals that I should approach, please let me know! Below is a preliminary list of groups I hope to visit, but I would love to have more leads to follow up on once I get there. Please post any suggestions using the comments feature of the blog–they might be useful to others as well.
- International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) documentation centre at the Gasabo Judicial Palace, the seat for the Gasabo Tribunal of Higher Instance.
- Offices for the UN Development Program in Kigali
- Ligue des droits de la personne dans la région des Grands Lacs (LDGL)–Human Rights League of the Great Lakes. This will be tricky for me, as I don’t speak French, but I will engage an interpreter once I am in Kigali.
- Voices of Rwanda
Seeing the ICTR collection is a high priority for me because of the international profile of this work–the tribunal serves as a model for future reconciliation and justice efforts, so understanding the disposition of their collections could provide ideas to smaller organizations with useful documentation that they might want to send up to the international courts. I also plan to visit the Kigali Peace Corps offices to see if they know of anyone I should contact.
This will be a grand adventure! I thank all of you in advance for any and all suggestions. The more potential resources I have, the better the field data I can collect, and the more I will be able to share with you.
Thank you in advance for your help,