The present is always filled with spectres of the past, which slip in and out of view. Burdened by complex colonial and apartheid inheritances, contemporary South Africa negotiates these spectres in a highly charged manner.

The archives that impose themselves on, or lend themselves to, such negotiations are the focus of our enquiry, as are the B-sides, the archives that are unrecognised, neglected, disavowed or subaltern inheritances. In a project that is at once historical and contemporary – and that resonates in global discussions of memory, trauma, social justice, imperialism, indigenous rights, and the practices of history – we pay attention to the remixes of the record, in the past and in the present.


Opening up the Robben Island Bible

Last month, the APC’s special event, ‘A Conversation on The Robben Island Bible’, attracted a large audience and lively debate. We felt especially honoured to welcome ex-prisoners, Khwedi Mkhaliphi, who attended with his wife, Ruth Mkhaliphi, the artist Lionel Davis (also a formerly banned person) and Yasien Mohamed. Both Davis and Mohamed are well-known tour guides on Robben Island. The event was organised and chaired by APC Honorary Research Fellow, Dr June Bam.


Bloch's Slantways exhibition on show at CAS Gallery

APC Doctoral Researcher Joanne Bloch’s exhibition, Slantways, opened at the Centre for African Studies Gallery last week and will be up until 25 September. The opening speech was made by Hedley Twidle (English Department) who gave a riveting and witty account of Bloch and his wanderings around Oxford, while attending The Lives of Objects conference in 2013, and their shared fixation with obscure objects as the basis for story telling and academic research into material culture, commodities and the social life of things. Bloch's exhibition features works across a variety of media – her response to chosen artefacts, which form part of a ‘somewhat quirky, taxonomy-less colonial-era object collection’ of around 130 objects that is housed in the in the Manuscripts and Archives Department of the University of Cape Town Library. ‘I had the choice of using the objects themselves, but instead I have chosen to respond to them creatively,’ she says.


Some notes on the Spectralities Workshop

Anette Hoffmann

The Spectralities Workshop hosted by Archive & Public Culture in August included a number of prominent scholars: Achille Mbembe (Wits) spoke of animism, and what can be called ‘New Animism’ in the art world and in theory; Sarah Nuttall (Wits) presented a paper on materiality and immateriality; Esther Peeren (ASCA and Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies) spoke to notions of spectrality as a concept that can accommodate our thinking on and speaking of those who are in-visible, or appear to me ‘immaterial in current debates.


Cape Town joins the Worldwide Reading for Edward Snowden

On the evening of Monday, 8 September, a Cape Town reading took place at the AVA Gallery on Church Street in Cape Town as part of the Worldwide Reading for Edward Snowden co-ordinated by the International Literature Festival Berlin (ilb). The readings were hosted in support of ‘liberty and recognition’ for Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked classified information from America’s National Security Agency (NSA) in order to reveal the extent of global surveillance programmes’ infringements on the privacy of individual citizens. Snowden, whose US passport has been revoked, is currently living in Russia and seeking asylum in the European Union. 


Herwitz and Steinberg to discuss opera in a 'post-Eurocentric globalized world'

A public conversation between Daniel Herwitz and Michael Steinberg on a collaboration between the University of Cape Town School of Opera and the University of Michigan Faculty of Music will be hosted by Archive & Public Culture on 16 October.


Reminder: Ndebele, Garuba and Nuttall – 'No Longer at Ease'

This Thursday, 18 September, Archive & Public Culture will be hosting a lunchtime conversation between Njabulo Ndebele, Sarah Nuttall and Harry Garuba.

The discussion has been convened in response to Ndebele’s keynote address, To Be Or Not To Be, No Longer At Ease, which he presented at the 40th African Literature Conference at the University of the Witwatersrand in April this year.

‘So I tell a personal story about a novel and me. Between us, the novel and I, is a world of my growing up as a boy. A key part of that growth was the expansion of my awareness. A significant moment in that expansion as I reached out towards a broader world was when this novel came into my life. (…) So what could be the connection between a novel and the sweep of global history, and a young man in between, who grew into adulthood?’ (Njabulo Ndebele)