CfP: Africa and the Environment Archives and Data in the Climate Emergency

Call for papers, deadline 31 January 2023

SCOLMA: the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa

Africa and the Environment

Archives and Data in the Climate Emergency

23 June 2023

A one-day conference at SOAS, London and online



Africa’s natural environment is rich and diverse, ranging from its wildlife and plants to its land and resources. It is also one of the continents most severely affected by climate change, with increasingly erratic weather events adversely impacting biodiversity, agriculture and those living there.

This conference will explore library and archive materials relating to Africa and the environment, and how they are collected, catalogued, preserved and used in research and teaching. How are records being used to document and understand the history of climate change, to predict the future and to influence policy? How are the data produced by current research on the environment being collected and preserved?

As the catastrophic fire at the Jagger Library, University of Cape Town, in 2021 starkly illustrates, the climate crisis also presents an unprecedented challenge for the preservation of collections in Africa. The conference also aims to discuss the issues confronting libraries and archives on the continent, and what measures are being taken to protect and preserve their collections.

We welcome papers from librarians, archivists and researchers in a number of disciplines, including African Studies, History, Geography, Environmental Sciences, Cartography, and Refugee and Migration Studies. Papers may address a range of media including documents and manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, historical printed collections, audio-visual material and born-digital material.

Subjects may include, but are not limited to:

  • How the archives of individuals and organisations working on environmental issues are being preserved and made available.
  • How library and archive materials are used to chart and address climate change.
  • How collections are used to research renewable energy in Africa.
  • How current field research is being preserved and published.
  • The use and preservation of big data in the study of climate change.
  • How environmental challenges are affecting libraries and archives in Africa, and how they are responding.
  • Best practice, in the context of the climate crisis, in the protection and preservation of archive and library collections.

The conference will be in hybrid format. Papers may be given in person or online.

Please submit abstracts of up to 350 words and a one-paragraph biography to Sarah Rhodes ( by Tuesday 31 January 2023.