"Tribing and Untribing the Archive: Identity and the Material Record in Southern KwaZulu-Natal in the Late Independent and Colonial Periods", edited by Carolyn Hamilton and Nessa Leibhammer, is now available from the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.
The pernicious combination of tribe and tradition continues to tether modern South Africans to ideas about the region’s remote past as primitive, timeless and unchanging. Any hunger for knowledge or understanding of the past before European colonialism thus remains to a significant degree unsated, even denied, in the face of a narrowly prescribed archive and repugnant, but insidiously resilient, stereotypes.
These volumes track how the domain of the tribal and traditional was marked out and came to be sharply distinguished from modernity, how it was denied a changing history and an archive and was endowed instead with a timeless culture. The volumes also offer strategies for engaging with the archival materials differently – from the interventions effected in contemporary artworks to the inserting of nameless, timeless objects of material culture into histories of individualised and politicised experience.
The central proposition of the volumes is to make the marooned archive of material culture more visible and more available for consideration as an archival resource than it is currently. They also seek to spring the identity trap, releasing the material from pre-assigned identity positions as tribal into settings that enable them to be used as resources for thinking critically about identity in the long past and in the present.
Buy your copy of Tribing and Untribing the Archive: Identity and the Material Record in Southern KwaZulu-Natal in the Late Independent and Colonial Periods from the University of KwaZuluNatal Press: Volume 1 and Volume 2.
2016 has been a tumultuous year for South African universities. The student call for decolonised education places a critical spotlight on university curricula, established canons and the history of disciplinary practices. It underscores the centrality of a critical interrogation of archive in any review of prevailing knowledge practices and highlights the need for the kind of work pioneered in the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative. Most relevant is APC work in exploring the mutually constituting roles of archive and public, political and academic discourses and practices across time.
At the end of 2016 we can be satisfied with having reached a number of research milestones pertinent to the current crisis in higher education and to how matters are discussed and debated in public and academic life.
The APC's November research development workshop took place against the backdrop of nation-wide student protests about fees and the lack of transformation in higher education, and a delicately-brokered agreement for the completion of the 2016 academic year. The event drew together graduate students, fellows, affiliates and guests from England, Germany and Chile, as well as from Johannesburg, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
From 27 to 29 October 2016, four APC associated scholars—Carolyn Hamilton, Mbongiseni Buthelezi, Nessa Leibhammer and Catherine Elliott Weinberg—joined a group of international and other South African scholars in London and Cambridge for a number of events linked to the British Museum’s major autumn exhibition “South Africa: The Art of a Nation”, that opened to the public on 27 October.