Geraldine Frieslaar

Chief Archivist, New Archival Visions

Dr Geraldine Frieslaar obtained her Ph.D in History at the University of the Western Cape in 2016. As a work of history and critical archival studies, the thesis calls for a reassessment of the meaning of liberation archives, and makes a wider argument for a return to an activist archival practice that transcends stewardship to one that embraces critical scholarship. Geraldine is the Chief Archivist, a position located within the New Archival Visions Programme at the Centre for Humanities Research where her work includes collections management, developing activation programmes in respect of collections, research and teaching. Before her appointment at UWC, Geraldine served as the director of the South African History Archive, an independent human rights archive based in Johannesburg. Frieslaar worked in various positions in the last 17 years across archives, museums and universities which included the District Six Museum, the Robben Island Museum, and at her alma mater, Stellenbosch University where she was appointed as the curator for research, dialogue and social justice in 2021. Through her work experience and academic research, Frieslaar cultivates an understanding of historic and systemic challenges facing archival and museological spaces and thus her research interests are around interventions that disrupt traditional modes of thinking and making these spaces more accessible, dialogical, participatory, and inclusive through archival activism, practice-based research and theory. Geraldine co-authored Transformation of Archives and Heritage Education in post-apartheid South Africa which was published in 2023.