Introducing Digicoljust News

Towards a new research project

DIGICOLJUST is coming to an end, long live DIGICOLJUST-2!

The project’s team is happy to announce that BELSPO (and its BRAIN-be 2.0 scheme) has decided to fund a new project introduced by the team of coordinators (Pierre-Alain Tallier for the State Archives, Amandine Lauro for the ULB and Benoît Henriet for the VUB) for 4 more years, starting from February 2023. The project DIGICOLJUST-2 – “Military Violence and its (Dis)Contents in Colonial Congo: Sharing the Records, Writing the History” will allow us to recruit one PhD candidate and two postdoctoral researchers.

Building on the promising results of the pilot project DIGICOLJUST and on the track-record of the team of coordinators in colonial archival heritage and history, the project DIGICOLJUST-2 “Military Violence and its (Dis)Contents in Colonial Congo: Sharing the Records, Writing the History” aims at renewing the archival, scientific and societal knowledge of the history of military crimes and of their repression in Colonial Congo (1885-1908-1960). Based on a combined input of heritage science and scholarly expertise, this project responds to political and historiographic debates on the contested heritage of Belgian colonial archives and on the violent history of Belgian imperialism. Pursuing the uncovering of a long-considered lost collection of more than 5,400 courts records encompassing 70 years of testimonies of colonial military crimes, DIGICOLJUST-2 will allow for the development of state-of-the-art solutions designed in collaboration with Congolese archivists for further sharing this heritage, and for the production of innovative historical research. It will offer new insights into the deployment and escalation of armed violence in colonial Central Africa (i.e. the “content” of military violence), as well as into the complex relationship of Belgian colonial (military) authorities to impunity and soldierly misconduct (i.e. the “discontent” with this violence embodied in the judicial process).

The results produced by the initial phase of the DIGICOLJUST project have confirmed the crucial interest of the records of colonial courts-martial. In 24 months, the project’s team has been able to map the archival materials, to retrace their history, to conceive a format of online access, both user-friendly and scientifically sound, for the already-completed digitization of the pilot program (1,147 case files/27,650 scanned pages from the military court of Léopoldville, 1891-1956), and to build an effective partnership with the INACO in DRC. In spite of the impediments caused by the Covid-19 and by the time-consuming decontamination and transfer of more than 5,400 case files to the State Archives, the main objectives of the project will be met by the end of 2022. DIGICOLJUST-2 will therefore offer a full return on this investment by pursuing a complementary series of key objectives: (1)Digitization and online publication of the ca. 4,200 remaining case files; (2)Building an advanced relational database allowing for an improved accessibility to a highly relevant collection for scholars and stakeholders interested not only in colonial armed forces but also in the social history of Belgian colonialism; (3)Developing the praxis of sharing archival/digital heritage between Belgium and Congo in a bilateral dynamic of conservation and research, notably through a collaborative research guide connecting the military court records kept by the AGR with the Force Publique‘s files kept by the INACO; and (4)Researching the history of military violence and justice through thematic case-studies (on military violence in Leopold II’s Congo and its legacies, on gender-based violence, and on what was specifically “colonial” in wartime colonial military justice), also conceived as ground-breaking contributions to the international historiography of colonial policing and armed forces.

More about the final results of our first project and the research to come soon!

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Amandine Lauro (October 28, 2022). Towards a new research project. DIGICOLJUST. Retrieved July 17, 2024 from

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