Two of DIGICOLJUST’s promotors, Benoît Henriet (VUB) and Amandine Lauro (ULB) were in Kinshasa between 28 October and 3 November to present the project and discuss its uses and relevance with the community of Congolese archivists and historians.
Henriet and Lauro first presented DIGICOLJUST at the Journées de l’Histoire, a two-day symposium on the challenges and opportunities of history teaching in the DRC. During this event, Congolese and foreign scholars exchanged views with secondary school teachers, activists, journalists and politicians, including Caroline Désir, Education minister of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. You can find an enthusiastic review of the Journées de l’Histoire and of our project under the pen of Congo-expert Colette Braeckman in Le Soir.
DIGICOLJUST’s promotors then also met extensively with the project’s Congolese partners, including Jean-Bedel Iyoka, general-director of the National Archives (INACO) and historians Christian Chiza (ISP Bukavu), Kiangu Sindani (UNIKIN) and Donatien Dibwe dia Mwembu (UNILU). The digitization of the Conseils du Guerre’s archives is a fantastic chance to deploy new research synergies between Congo and Belgium based on this shared archival heritage, and to provide Congolese students with primary sources they could mobilise for their undergraduate and graduate thesis.
Many possibilities for further collaboration were sketched out during those meetings. Prof. Dibwe for instance mentioned that those archives could be used not only by historians, but also by criminologists. Jean-Bedel Iyoka suggested potential future research projects using both the Conseils de Guerre and archives of the Force Publique held in Kinshasa. Furthermore, the digitized records of colonial martial courts could serve to broaden the scope of primary sources available for history students in Kinshasa and beyond.
More about these exciting opportunities in the months to come!