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The Southern African context current activities and projects

Members are encouraged to list specific projects related to Southern Africa and Africa in general on this website in order to showcase activities in within this domain.  The use of the term DH or Digital Humanities is still fairly new in Southern Africa. The Southern African research community has been actively involved with projects and initiatives in recent times that fall within the broader domain of Digital Humanities. The list if not comprehensive. All activities are not initiated by DHASA, nor is DHASA directly involved with all of these activities.

Pertinent Activities to promote Digital Humanities in Southern Africa 

Research Unit for Literature and Languages in the South African Context (NWU):

  • 2014 – First local awareness campaign (with international guests) + weekly discussion sessions
  • 2015 – First DH Workshop SA (23-25 February) with 5 High profile international contributors 105 participants / plenaries & software training workshops
    Association for DH approved in principle a steering committee was elected to develop a constitution
  • 2016 – Second DH Workshop SA (4-8 April) 2 High profile international contributors 65 participants / plenaries & software training workshops and the founding of Digital Humanities Association of Southern Africa (DHASA) as a Forum the constitution was also accepted

Various digitisation projects across many disciplines for many years:

  • 2008: Digitisation Stakeholders meeting – involved Carnegie Corporation of New York and National Research Foundation (NRF) (due to requests received by CC)
    • Resolutions: Carnegie Corp. to sponsor a digitalisation project to be managed by the NRF
    • Audit on digitisation initiatives in South Africa
    • A comprehensive audit was conducted and presented to the NRF in August 2009: different sectors
    • Recommendations
      • Establishment of Task team manage initial activities
      • Establishment of National Heritage Repository
      • Specialised short courses for librarians, archivists, other (professional development)
      • Provide inexpensive infrastructure to libraries, museums etc
      • Develop a National Portal for access to heritage collections
      • Establish a National Digitisation and Preservation Support Centre  
    • National Portal established at the NRF (2009)
    • 2012: National call for hosting Digitisation Centre
    • Digitisation and Data Preservation Centre at the NRF – eventually in 2013 ( )
      • Digital Initiatives Register (Completed, ongoing and planned projects): 233 collections registered (2013)
      • Heritage Repository (3 Themes: Biodiversity and Natural Science History; Political History; Cultural History)
      • Training modules (with UNISA)
      • Publications (including metadata guidelines)

Specific digitisation and/or DH projects

  • Digital Innovation South Africa (DISA 1, 2)
    • University of KwaZulu-Natal (
    • SA history, politics, gender, literature, economics, human rights, urban struggles
  • International Library of African Music (ILAM)
    • Rhodes University, Grahamstown (
  • Historical Papers
    • WITS (
    • Largest non-state archive in South Africa
  • South African Newspapers
    • National Library of South Africa (Planned)
  • Africa South Art Initiative
    • University of Cape Town (Planned)
  • Maritime history / Education History
    • Cape Peninsula University of Technology (planned)
  • Universities' repositories of academic papers / theses etc - general practice
  • Race and the Digital Humanities in South Africa
  • Digital Humanities and the Future of the Archive
  • Soweto Historical GIS Project
  • Projects at the NWU (Potchefstroom):
    • Social Anthropology (Goodrich & Bombardella)
    • English (De Lange, Gouws, Wright and others) 
  • Beyers Naude (Theology) project:
  • Digitisation, history and the making of a post colonial archive:
  • The Jonathan Edwards Centre Africa 2009
  • Missionary Archives from Lesotho
    • 1832-2006 contains both the ethnographic and historical archives of the first missionary in Lesotho, D.F. Ellenberger, as well as the complete run of the bi-weekly magazine, the Leselinyana, from 1863 till 2006. Specific projects
  • Language Resource Management Agency - NWU (DAC)

Southern African Context

  • Digitisation is an ongoing activity taking place within many domains, disciplines and it is supported to different degrees by:
    • National Research Foundation (NRF),
    • Human Science Research Council (HSRC)
    • National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS)
    • Department of Arts and Culture (DAC)
    • National Archives of South Africa
    • South African Centre for Digital Language Resources

Recent Developments

The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR)

Government support, through the Department of Science and Technology, as well as the combined effort of many South African Academics, made the establishment of SADiLaR possible. SADiLaR runs two programmes:

digitisation programme, which entails the systematic creation of relevant digital text, speech and multi-modal resources related to all official languages of South Africa.  The development of appropriate natural language processing software tools for research and development purposes are included as part of the digitisation programme.

Digital Humanities programme, which facilitates the building of research capacity by promoting and supporting the use of digital data and innovative methodological approaches within the Humanities and Social Sciences.