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The NRF-funded South African Research Chair in Archive and Public Culture, Faculty of Humanities, University of Cape Town, offers a number of bursaries each year to postgraduate students at Honours, Masters, Doctoral and post-Doctoral level.
The APC’s first Research Development Workshop of 2021 took place from 5 to 7 May on Zoom, in the aftermath of the Table Mountain fire, and in the midst of efforts to salvage materials from the Jagger Library. The fire, and the questions it has since provoked about archives, loss, the transformation of collections, and scholarly obligations, would be inescapable for this workshop. Holding this in mind, the APC drew upon a photograph taken by APC associate researcher Jo-Anne Duggan of a series of charred remains of books from the collection, using it as a visual point of reference throughout the workshop.
On 30 and 31 March 2021, the APC’s Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA) project participated in the fourth of a series of African Digital Humanities workshops together with its consortium partners, the Digital Bleek and Lloyd, and the Metsemegologolo Project.
Each of the partner projects is committed to the production of archival materials in a digital setting and to the development of pioneering digital research tools. The workshops, the first of which dates back to July 2019, offer opportunities for co-operation, knowledge exchanges, and for constructive critique.
Rachel King’s Outlaws, Anxiety, and Disorder in Southern Africa: Material Histories of the Maloti-Drakensberg, published in 2019 by Palgrave Macmillan, is a proof that, indeed, archaeologists can write excellent history. In little less than 300 pages, King – who presented a draft chapter to the APC Research Development Workshop of March 2018 – leads the reader to the maze of streams, valley bottoms, rocky shelters, and mountain tops of the Maloti Drakensberg, showing us at least seven paths to a distant historical event that, for some time in 1878, seized the headlines in Cape Town: Moorosi’s War, fought by colonial and Lesotho forces against the evanescent leader of the Baputhi, who had “rebelled” and defended his mountain to the very end.
On Thursday 18 March, the APC formally welcomed its new cohort of students and hosted its inaugural event for 2021. The Research Lab, in the format of a lunchtime discussion with APC’s new postdoctoral fellow, Alírio Karina, kicked off the APC’s 2021 Post-Museum research theme. Karina presented an early draft of an essay titled “Notes on an accountable museum”. This paper offered a critical and theoretical analysis of the role of museums in contemporary and past imperial knowledge and power formations. The paper also considered the consequences of this role for questions of accountability and restitution that have gained new prominence over the past few years.
Izilimi ziguquka njalo. Futhi izinguquko zolimi azikwazi ukulawulwa nakumiswa neze; ziyenzeka nje ngoba nabantu bayaguquka ekuhambeni kwesikhathi. Ngenxa yokuxhumaxhumana kwabantu abaningi emhlabeni abakhuluma izilimi ezahlukahlukene, lonke ulimi emhlabeni lunamagama adabuka kwezinye izilimi. NgesiZulu lawo magama abizwa ngamagama ayimifakela.
The AtoM-based 500 Year Archive, one of the digital outputs of the APC’s Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA) project, was launched publicly in September 2020, after a test period of being open to APC researchers. The parent project, FHYA, is part of the APC’s wider effort to foster research into the southern African past up to five centuries before colonialism.
The FHYA draws attention to and makes accessible scattered and unrecognised materials relevant to those five centuries. When the pandemic occurred, digital resources like the 500 Year Archive became more important than ever before because of the limits placed on travel and visits to archives and libraries.
On 25 and 26 February 2021, APC sent two of its members, Carolyn Hamilton and Ettore Morelli, to the virtual symposium “Contested Spaces: Epistemic (a)symmetries, mobilities, identities”, organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Debra Pryor and Dr Grant McNulty were invited to present on the FHYA at a Virtual Colloquium held by the DSI-NRF Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (University of Kwa-Zulu Natal) International Platform on 11-12 February 2021.
The title of the colloquium was “Re-visioning the Knowledge Life-Cycle: The Integration of Knowledge Production, Management and Protection from an Indigenous Knowledge Systems Perspective” and included participants from Washington State and Chicago in the US, Guernsey, Namibia, South Africa, Chennai in India and Indonesia.
In November 2020, the APC welcomed postdoctoral fellow Dr Alirio Karina. They have a PhD in History of Consciousness, with designated emphases in Feminist Studies and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies, from the University of California, Santa Cruz. A scholar of African and Black social and political thought, their teaching and research engages the fields of feminist studies, museum studies, anthropology, literature, history, political economy and postcolonial philosophy.
Karina’s research project, Africa After Anthropology, explores how the idea of Africa is an afterlife of anthropology, and considers what it might mean to do African studies – and to think Africa – in a way autonomous of anthropology, though cognizant of its histories.
We have finally come to the end of an astonishing year. Many APC researchers have lost friends and family in the pandemic and we are saddened by these depredations. I hope that all the APC researchers, staff and students will make sure to plan some downtime for yourselves over the vacation break. We should not underestimate how demanding and difficult 2020 has been, and the toll that it has taken on everyone. Also, it seems that the next few weeks will be very difficult.