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‘Herstories’ presented to the national archives of Sri Lanka

‘Herstories’  presented to the national archives of Sri Lanka
‘Herstories’  presented to the national archives of Sri Lanka 

In
honour of International Women’s Day 2014

Herstories, an archival
project focusing on Sri Lankans’ histories told through the voices of mothers
from the South, East and North of the country, was officially presented to the
National Archives of Sri Lanka on Thursday, 6 March, 2014 under the patronage
of the Secretary to the Ministry of National Heritage. This is the first
collection focused entirely on women within the National Archives. It will be
exhibited at the National Archives from 6-8 March 2014 – International Women’s
Day.
Mothers are guardians of
their family history; the pillars of strength upon which a family is built.
They are also the most affected by war and peace as ordinary women live
extraordinary lives that show women’s courage and resilience. As such, this
project highlights their strength in the face of adversity, and their hopes for
their children’s and Sri Lanka’s futures. 

The project attempts to
address a gap in the way we record and remember history, or his-story. Women’s
stories, particularly those of ordinary citizens, are often unrecorded and
forgotten in the course of history in many contexts. The project has collected
270 oral stories recounting family histories, experiences and hopes –through
hand-written letters, photo essays, short videos and mapping and visual
story-telling methods. The women who have shared their stories voluntarily are
from Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Moneragala, Ampara and Kurunegala. The
stories have been translated and are available in English, Sinhala and Tamil. A
sample collection of 60 stories was presented through a traveling exhibition in
Colombo, Galle and Ampara. The entire collection will be archived online at
www.herstoryarchives.org. 
‘Herstories’ not only
showcases a shared history of women in Sri Lanka through our turbulent past to
a hopeful future, but also shows how we Sri Lankans are rooted in multiple
identities, histories and experiences. Through the narratives of many, this
project highlights a collective sense of fundamental humanness that transcends
boundaries to create empathy for the other. These ‘Herstories’ will not only
add to the culture of oral tradition and story-telling in Sri Lanka – they will
also contribute to bringing together diverse groups and the preservation of
peoples’ history for future generations of Sri Lankans.
Accepting the collection, the Director of the Archives, Dr. Saroja
Wetthesinghe said “The Department of National Archives functions under the
legal provisions of National Archives Law, No: 48 of 1973 and National Archives
( Amendment ) Act, No: 30 of 1981 and according to the clause 12, the
Department acquires important special private collections. —Herstories˜ is a
project of oral history and also focused only on women which carries
information on women and hence it is a valuable collection. As the
International Women’s Day falls on 8th March, the collection is
exhibited in honor of that”. 

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