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In 2021 the APC operated mostly in remote mode. At the beginning of the year we assessed what had worked well online in 2020 and what had not, and adjusted our 2021 programme accordingly. We held a variety of successful research events online, including our two big Research Development Workshops, a series of interesting Research Labs organized by APC post-doc Alirio Karina, as well as regular meetings of the Lesotho research group and the Book Writing group. Our digital project team, the Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA), worked intensively and successfully online.
The FHYA has completed a new presentation called ‘Spotlight on the Mfecane Debate’ that commemorates the 30-year anniversary of ‘The ‘Mfecane’ Aftermath: towards a new paradigm’ colloquium, which was held at Wits in September 1991. The colloquium, organised by Carolyn Hamilton, focused on the then-emerging mfecane debate.
The APC’s second Research Development Workshop of 2022 took place from 27-29 October on Zoom. 25 papers by 27 authors were read, given written commentary by assigned commentators, and discussed collectively over 11 sessions. As visual referents, the APC drew on a series of photographic works titled Seeing What Is Not There by APC research associate, Carine Zaayman.
On 30 September 2020 Dr. David Bresnahan, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Utah, presented “Slavery in Translation: Tracing Concepts of Marginality and Belonging between Lake Malawi and Mombasa in the first Nyanja Dictionary”. At the year’s final lab on 11 November, Dr. Daren Ray, Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University, presented “Muyaka’s Lament: Poetic Memory and the Surrender of Mombasa, 1815-1840.”
The value in archiving the records and associated material of the Upington Trial lies in the preservation of key aspects of a particular historical period, both locally and nationally. Importantly, it offers an opportunity for the development of an archive pertinent to the history of a particular community in the relatively sparsely archived Northern Cape.
Generally, when you go off on a research trip to look at archives and interview interlocutors, you do not expect scenery. When first arriving at Morija in Lesotho you are struck first by the landscape, with a sweeping valley running up to the Makhoarane mountain. On the face of the mountain, you see the modern cuneiform of dates painted upon the rock.It was from this base that our doctoral research scholars’ research trip started for Patrick Whang and Sibusiso Nkomo.
The FHYA is part of a multi-institutional research consortium that was successful in 2021 in gaining a third tranche of funding from the Mellon African Digital Humanities initiative. Also in the second half of 2021 the FHYA participated in online training sessions on OmekaS, an open-source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections, hosted by Wiser, Mellon’s Afridig funding partner.
On the 18th of September 2021, Thokozani Mhlambi curated a concert at the Baxter Theatre gardens. This was as part of his Homecoming Tour, following his residency in Paris in 2020. The concert took Heritage Month, and the diversity of cultural influences which make-up SouthAfrica, as inspiration.
Long standing APC associate Philip Miller and co-composer Tshegofatso Moeng have teamed up to create the digital album "Reuben T Caluza -The B-side" exploring new interpretations and arrangements of some of the songs by the prolific and popular South African composer Reuben T. Caluza (1895–1969), who was once a household name in South Africa.
APC alum, Dr Tebogo George Mahashe, was awarded the prestigious 2021 UCT College of Fellows' Young Researcher Award for his growing research track record spanning written publications, exhibitions, and public service. The College of Fellows award recognises outstanding scholarly work by young academics who have made significant independent contributions to research in their field.
My chapter ‘Facing (Down) the Coloniser? The Mandela Statue at Cape Town’s City Hall’ was published in September 2021 in a book with the wonderfully evocative title Falling Monuments Reluctant Ruins: The persistence of the past in the architecture of apartheid edited by Hilton Judin, a member of the academic staff in the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits University. The book is the first product of a series of workshops (jointly hosted by Judin’s School and the History Workshop also at Wits) focused on the material residues of apartheid/colonialism.
The essay ‘Modalities of Meaning: Light and Shadow in Archaeological Images’ by Nessa Leibhammer, research fellow of the APC, has been published in The Oxford Handbook of Light in Archaeology, edited by Costas Papadopoulos and Holley Moyes. The book released on 9 December 2021 is the first of its kind to address the impact and influence of light in different facets of archaeology, from myth and ritual to houses and museum exhibitions.