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Conference: Looted, lost or hidden. Archives and Politics

Ever since ancient times, people have created archives that have documented activity of different kinds. To organize, preserve and have knowledge of archives lies as a foundation in the identities of nations, groups and individuals. Proper storage and use of archives allows us to investigate and find knowledge about the past.

But the archive is a selective memory. It is both a tool for remembering and expression of oblivion. For some reasons, some stories have been hidden in the archives, or the archives have been kept hidden from the public. Some archives have been tried destroyed. This shows that archives can be explosive because they can be tools for power or opposition in different societies.

We wish to point out some of the fields in which archives and the processing of these have become central, both because they are suppressed, contribute as identity and propaganda and are examples of archives that have been collected and reconstructed precisely because one feels that they are missing.


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Mandy Banton

A culture of secrecy? - the management of records of Britain’s imperial past.


Joanna Sassoon

Chasing shadows, finding skeletons. Tracking the archives of the photographer, E.L. Mitchell, Australia


Sigrid Lien

Colonial shame and bourgeois pride. The History of an unknown painting.





Gudmund Valderhaug

The Bicycles at Storskog. Some Reflections on the Marginalization of Refugees and Migrants in Public Records.


Ellen Røsjø

The Oslo Multicultural Archives Project in Oslo City Archives


Ole Martin Rønning

Norwegian Labour Records during German occupation. Loss and reconstruction.


Harald Lindbach

The hidden Sámi Archives


Rona Sela

Looted and Hidden: Palestinian Archives in Israel (film 45 minutes)


The end






Dr. Mandy Banton (Great Britain)

is a former senior archivist at the National Archives of the UK, an expert on the records of the British Colonial Office and author of the standard guide to those records.  She is now a senior research fellow in the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, a member of the International Council on Archives Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


Dr. Joanna Sassoon (Australia)

is an internationally respected historian and archivist. She has managed archival collections in cultural institutions in Western Australia and Canberra, worked in social justice/policy research in the State and Commonwealth public service, and has taught in several universities. Her research has resulted in award-winning papers on photography, oral history, and heritage, environmental and Australian history. She is based in Western Australia where she enjoys a mix of teaching, working with community archives/museums and conducting her own research in the history of photography. This talk will draw on her book Agents of Empire: how E.L. Mitchell shaped Australia


Prof. Sigrid Lien (Norway)

Professor in art history and photography studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. Project leader for the Norwegian team in the HERA-project PhotoClec (Museums, Colonial past and Photography) 2010-2012, head of “Negotiating History: Photography in Sámi Culture», funded by the Norwegian Research Council (2014-2017). Has published extensively on nineteenth century as well as modern and contemporary photography in a Norwegian context. Latest books: Norsk fotohistorie frå daguerreotypi til digitalisering (Norwegian History of Photography. From Daguerreotype to Digitization), Det Norske Samlaget 2007 (with Peter Larsen), Kunsten å lese bilder (The Art of Reading Images), Spartacus 2008 (also with Larsen), Lengselens bilder. Fotografiet i norsk utvandringshistorie, (Pictures of Longing. Photography in the History of the Norwegian US emigration), Scandinavian Academic Press, 2009. She recently edited Uncertain Images: Museums and the Work of Photographs, Ashgate 2014, (with Elizabeth Edwards) 2014: Museumsforteljingar. Vi og dei andre i kulturhistoriske museum (Museum stories. We and the Others in Cultural History Museums, Det Norske Samlaget 2016, (with Hilde Nielssen).


Førstelektor Gudmund Valderhaug (Norway)

associate professor at Oslo Metropolitan University, where he has been teaching archives and records management since 2003. He was director for archival issues at the Norwegian Authority for Archives, Libraries and Museums 2003 – 2006. Before this he worked for 20 years in municipal archives. He has published articles in professional journals and anthologies, and is the editor of the e-journal Tidsskriftet Arkiv (


Ellen Røsjø (Norway)

is a senior advisor at the National Archives, Norway from 2013. She has been the project leader for the Private archives part of SAMDOK – samla samfunnsdokumentasjon/an integrated societal memory. She was in Oslo City Archives for 21 years and the project leader for The Oslo Multicultural Archives Project.


Dr. Ole Martin Rønning (Norway)

A historian who works as deputy director at the Labour Movement Archives and Library, Oslo. His PhD-thesis: «Stalin’s students. Comintern Cadre Schools and the Communist Party of Norway, 1926-1949» was awarded in 2010 and he has published several articles about the Norwegian and Scandinavian Labour Movements. His key fields of research: Norwegian/ Scandinavian Labour, the international Communist movement, relations between the Soviet Union and Norwegian/Scandinavian Labour.


Harald Lindbach (Norway)

an archivist and historian on the verge of finishing his PhD in «Media- og Dokumentasjonsvitenskap» (Media and Documentation Sciences) at the University of Tromsø, Norway. He is employed at the Research Department of the National Archives of Norway: Research topic: Sami and Kvensk history, 18th Century, archives, archival theory, minorities and indigenous people. 


Dr. Rona Sela (Israel)

is a curator and researcher of visual history and a lecturer at Tel Aviv University. Her research focuses on the visual historiography of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinian photography, colonial Zionist/Israeli photography, colonial Zionist/Israeli archives, human rights violation, plunder and looting of Palestinian archives and their subjugation to repressive colonial mechanisms, and on constructing alternative postcolonial archives. She also researches the development of alternative visual practices connected to civil society systems, asking to replace the old Israeli official gatekeepers. She recently directed a film entitled Looted and Hidden: Palestinian Archives in Israel (2017) and published various articles and a book on the subject. For more information, visit




The conference is a collaboration between Preus Museum (the National Museum of Photography); The National Archives of Norway; Department of Archivists, Library and Information Sciences/Faculty of Social Sciences/Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, the magazine Arkiv and the Publisher ABM-media. With support from the Fritt Ord foundation.

Tuesday February 27th 2018

The National Archives at Sognsvann in Oslo (Wergeland Auditorium)

Participation fee:

  • NOK 200
  • Students free

Conference language: English

Supported by the Fritt Ord foundation and The National Archives of Norway

Entry form

Elisabeth Meyer archive (photo: Andreas Harvik/Preus museum)