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African Political Ephemera Digital Collection

1 February 2012

I’m really excited about a new collection at the University of Oregon libraries: The African Political Ephemera and Realia Project.

The African Political Ephemera and Realia Project is an online collection of ephemeral material – pamphlets, t-shirts, cloths, posters, to name just a few examples – that documents the material culture of politics in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ephemeral political material often does not find its way into institutional collections either because the material is discarded before it draws the attention of collectors, because it is too popular and mass-produced to merit consideration as art, or because it does not fit easily (either physically or intellectually) into the book- and manuscript-based realm of libraries. The African Political Ephemera Project hopes to focus attention on the significance of ephemeral political material as cultural artifacts that document both the political processes and the social and cultural forces at work in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Africa Political Ephemera and Realia Project is a collaboration between the African Studies Program and the UO Libraries.

Now I feel like all those crazy t-shirts and fabrics I have collected with faces of politicians on them will finally be appreciated. My guilty pleasure when conducting research in African countries is going on the hunt for such things.

The collection already looks like a great place to search for images, and I like that the images are licensed under a Creative Commons License.” (FYI: Acknowledgment of the University of Oregon Libraries as a source is required.)

Please, if you have material that could be photographed and added to the collection, contact John Russell, the History and African Studies Librarian at the University of Oregon who is coordinating this incredible effort.

Below is a preview of what you’ll find:

Zimbabwe freedom poster, shared with cc license, source: University of Oregon Libraries.

Wall hanging commemorating the marriage of Bakili Muluzi and Patricia Shanil Fukulani Dzimbiri, shared with cc license, source: University of Oregon Libraries

Red cloth with portrait of Hastings Kamuzu Banda, shared with cc license, source: University of Oregon Libraries.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 6 February 2012 1:09 pm

    This is awesome and I’m so happy to know about it. Another outlet for those items we’ve collected over the years is the Library of Congress – they have an awesome collection of political fabric that the Africa subject area librarians will let you see if you ask nicely. They’re always glad to take donations of anything you don’t want to keep in your personal collection.


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