An Archive of Identity: The Central African Archives and Southern Rhodesian history

Lawrence Dritsas, Joan Haig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Between 1943 and 1956, government archivists in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) collaborated with the publisher Chatto & Windus to produce a series of nine books. The collection was known as the ‘Oppenheimer Series’. The volumes were published by the Central African Archives and offered in print, for the first time, the primary sources—diaries, correspondence, notes and maps—that chronicled the first English-speaking Europeans to visit south-central Africa. This paper explores the role of this publication event in building a settled identity for Europeans in Southern Rhodesia. The publication of the Series coincided with efforts by the Rhodesian archivists to bring manuscripts from the UK to their collection in Salisbury (Harare). These activities reveal a strategy not only to publish the history of European exploration and settlement in central Africa but to reify it through the physical presence of these books and the archival institution itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-54
JournalArchival Science
Issue number1
Early online date22 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Archives
  • Colonial archives
  • Southern Rhodesia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Colonialism


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