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.


Ndebele to explore notions of blackness and canonical exclusion at upcoming APC event

On 18 September, Archive & Public Culture will convene a special discussion event around Professor Njabulo Ndebele’s keynote address, first presented at the 40th African Literature Conference at the University of the Witwatersrand in April this year.

Ndebele will reprise his presentation, To Be Or Not To Be, No Longer At Ease, which engages with historical notions of blackness, Black Consciousness, African-ness and citizenship in colonial, post-colonial and post-apartheid politics and literature, as well as with a series of questions around canons of literary work and the historical exclusion of literary expressions of experience from South African syllabi.

We will announce the time and details of this event closer to the date.


Dutch scholar Esther Peeren to present on the ‘ghost/spectre’ as archival metaphor

Archive & Public Culture has invited Esther Peeren, author of The Spectral Metaphor: Living Ghosts and the Agency of Invisibility (Palgrave, 2014), for a week of intense discussion, academic exchange and engagement around the theme of the ghost/spectre both as archival metaphor and as conceptual figure in post-colonial and cultural studies.


Miller's 'Extracts from the Underground' takes Joburg audiences to the depths

Composer and APC associate Philip Miller’s sound and visual installation, Extracts from the Underground, ran at Wits Arts Museum (WAM) through June, with a once-off live performance in Johannesburg taking place at the opening on 7 June, during which the audience embarked on a metaphorical descent from ground level into the deepest levels of the earth, to experience a hidden strata of South African history.


South African-Swiss sound archives workshop scheduled for September

Archive & Public Culture will be hosting the South African-Swiss sound archives workshop, Knowing by Ear: Histories and Politics of Listening, Aural Knowledge, and Located Audiences, at UCT on 9 September.


Biwa, Hoffmann and Sarreiter in Copenhagen and Basel

Together with APC honorary research fellow Regina Sarreiter and Britta Lange (HU Berlin), APC senior researcher Anette Hoffmann recently convened a panel on sound archives at the 2nd International Conference of the European Sound Studies Association (ESSA), titled ‘Mapping the Field’. The conference took place at the University of Copenhagen from 27-29 June. Scholars were invited to engage with recorded collections, the politics and practices of acoustic archiving, and questions around the theoretical engagement with sound archives, the complexities of acousmatic voices, and the challenges of curating and presenting acoustic documents.