Honouring Madam C.J. Walker: Using Gale Primary Sources to Represent Black Women’s Resistance to Racist American Beauty Standards

│By Tabetha Wood, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│

As I approach the final term of my history degree, I feel particularly passionate about the empowerment of minority groups through a representation of their past experiences. I saw my dissertation as an opportunity to fuel this passion and by investigating the ‘whiteness’ of American beauty standards between 1945-60, I represented the adversity African American women encountered in this realm, an obstacle that women of colour continue to face today.

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Exploring the Rise of Black Consciousness in South Africa using Gale Primary Sources

Anit-apartheid protest

│By Sasha Mandakovic, Gale Ambassador at Erasmus University, Rotterdam│

In the midst of finishing the final year of my Bachelor’s degree, I wrote a comparative analysis between the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa and La Négritude, a literary black resistance movement in Senegal. Inspired by this, in this blog post I will be focusing on the rise of Black Consciousness in South Africa and what it sought to be. This topic is also of great personal relevance to me, as it delves into the experiences of individuals who share my own racial and cultural identity. Furthermore, as someone who has lived in West Africa and had the opportunity to visit South Africa, I find it truly captivating to delve into the nuances of this movement and acquire a more profound understanding of it.

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Decolonising the Literary Curriculum: A Close Examination of Derek Walcott’s Omeros

Skyline of Cape Town, South Africa

|By James Carney, Senior Gale Ambassador at King’s College London|

Decolonisation refers to the process of attempting to undo the social, political, economic and cultural effects of imperialism on former colonies. Having just completed my undergraduate degree in English and Classical Literature at King’s College London, I have come to appreciate language and the written arts as potent mediums to contemplate, respond to and even resist the weight of colonial history.

My dissertation on Derek Walcott’s 1990 postmodern epic Omeros most thoroughly illustrated to me the nuances and creative potential of colonial victims to negotiate their present and historical standing in response to imperial agents. My exploration of this theme in Walcott’s work was particularly interesting as he ostensibly views colonisation as continuous, from nineteenth-century British and French empires to modern American capitalism, as the same force underlies both processes for the benefit of the typically white aristocracy, eclipsing native identity and homogenising Caribbean culture to artificiality.

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Emancipating a Continent: Studying the Americas Through The Region’s Liberators

American continent

|By Lola Hylander, Gale Ambassador at University College London|

Four years ago, when I began studying History and Politics of the Americas at University College London, I had little prior knowledge about the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. I’d studied History A-Level in the UK, but the syllabus focused mainly on European revolutions. My knowledge of Latin America and the Caribbean was limited to the perspective of Europe. For example, I had studied Napoleon III’s attempt to colonise Mexico, but from the perspective of France.

Joining the Institute of the Americas was, therefore, a big adjustment. I had to free myself from the Eurocentric framework I had developed in school. Using primary sources helped me familiarise myself with the region, and students of the region should check out Gale’s Archives of Latin American and Caribbean History, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century database to do so. I found some engaging sources in the Latin American and Iberian Biographies collection on three of the most significant liberators of Latin America and the Caribbean, and these men’s stories can teach us useful lessons about studying the Americas.

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Using Archives Unbound to Explore the Agency of the Oppressed

Montage of images from this blog post

│By Phoebe Sleeman, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│ As a historian, I have become increasingly aware of the power of archives to silence and oppress. Over the last few decades historians have been seeking to work against the grain of the traditional archive to uncover the agency of the oppressed, and some feminist historians have … Read more

Decolonization: Politics and Independence in Former Colonial and Commonwealth Territories

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|By Clem Delany, Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources|

Last week, I was lucky enough to go to India for the first time. I visited Mangalore in the state of Karnataka, as well as Kerala with its famous backwaters and cool green tea plantations in old hill stations. The British planted pine forests there and hid from the sun; in Mangalore old warehouses built along the river by the Portuguese for tile manufacture were visible from the high rise buildings around them. And everywhere – at busy roundabouts, by old government buildings and in front of smart new colleges – were statues and busts of solemn figures who I could not identify. The names Gandhi, Nehru and Modi are essentially the limit of my knowledge of modern India.

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How Slave Narratives Give Voice to the Enslaved

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│By Ellen Boucher, Gale Ambassador at the University of Bristol│

A source often overlooked in the study of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans is slave narratives. They are crucial to the work of decolonising the history of slavery because they allow us to remove the emphasis on those in power and give agency to enslaved persons. Gale’s Archives Unbound gives us access to many of these slave narratives, from the well-known stories of Olaudah Equiano and Harriet Jacobs to less well-known narratives of Martha Griffith Browne and Noah Davis.

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Using Primary Sources to Explore How Courts Punished Interracial Sex in Apartheid South Africa

Picture of Black male hand holding the hand of a white female

│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Senior Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│

Tackling a research assignment can prove to be extremely challenging to many student scholars at first. However, there are a few strategies that I have up my sleeves on how one can approach a research project. Firstly, it’s important to break the question down to ensure that you understand what you are being asked to do and what is required of you. Secondly, it is paramount to find a database that will provide you with materials relevant and valuable to your project. In this post I will demonstrate how I used primary sources in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive in a recent research assignment at my university to explore how courts investigated and punished interracial sex in South Africa under the apartheid regime. This will hopefully help other scholars who are interested in the history of South African politics see how they too can use Gale’s primary sources in their own research projects.

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A Conversation With Master’s Student Bokhutlo Tlhabanelo on Her Use of Gale Primary Sources

Women of Colour chatting

│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│

On a warm autumn afternoon in late May 2022, in the University of Johannesburg’s Library Project Room on the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus, I interviewed Bokhutlo Tlhabanelo, who is popularly known as Mickey. Mickey is a first year Master’s student and a tutor for the first year students enrolled on the undergraduate History course at the University of Johannesburg. In the interview, Mickey shared her holistic experience with Gale Primary Sources and the extent to which these resources have contributed to her research project.

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How Gale’s Archives Supported My Thesis on the Politics of Contraception in South Africa, 1970s–80s

Contraception plus archive article images

│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│

Having to complete my Honours research paper in the era of Covid-19 left myself and many other students feeling stranded so far as to how to obtain valuable and relevant academic resources. Access to digitised resources quickly became vital to one’s success in academia and I am happy that I came across Gale Primary Sources when I did because they contributed greatly to the completion of my thesis. This blog will show how I utilised Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender, and Women’s Studies Archive collections to explore my thesis topic – the Media and Technologies of Contraception in South Africa between the 1970s and 1980s.

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