Hiding the Colonial Past? A Comparison of European Archival Policies
Displaced archives are a common legacy of colonialism. This chapter examines the similarities and differences between the 'migrated archives' and their European counterparts (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain). It contrasts some archival policies and the political questions these policies continue to raise. The chapter argues that Europeans have consistently tried to hide their colonial past and that this colonial past is still haunting the political debates in some of those countries while it is noticeably absent from others. The official focus is also fundamental to understanding the lack of research on the way in which colonial archives have been understood. The chapter also argues that this national focus obscures the way in which colonial records have been systematically displaced, hidden and occasionally destroyed by a number of colonial powers around the world. Displaced archives ought to be associated with European democratic rights and should simultaneously be studied for their archival, historical and political values.