The second History Access graduate conference was held at UCT from the 19th to the 21st of November 2019. The conference, featuring special lectures, performances and student papers, was designed to develop capacity in critically engaging southern African vernacular sources and archives.
The APC celebrates the publication of Duane Jethro’s new book, Heritage Formation and the Senses in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Aesthetics of Power (Bloomsbury, 2019). The book manuscript was one of the outcomes of Jethro’s APC post-doctoral fellowship. In this book, Jethro creates a framework for understanding the role of the senses in processes of heritage formation.
Recent doctoral graduate, Dr Erica de Greef has published an evocative visual essay in a timely publication that explores the complex intersections of dress and power, individualism and nationalism, and surveillance and activism in Fashion and Politics (2019), edited by Dr Djurdja Bartlett of the London College of Fashion. It presents a variety of historical and current contexts, from public and personal archives to fashion magazines, political dailies and social media, to acknowledge and assess fashion’s ambivalence within political, social and aesthetic moral systems.
New phenomena, trends, and concepts are created everyday – many drawing on older knowledges and ideas and modifying them, blending them into some new configuration. Some are entirely new ideas. All of them are articulated through words. However, the imbalance of privilege and power afforded to some languages today, having come out of histories of colonialism, conquest, and political upheavals, has left certain languages more venerated than others regarding the production of knowledge, perceived linguistic malleability, and perceived intelligibility. This often leaves some languages thought of as having ‘more to prove’ in order to be taken as seriously as others in academia, in media, and in the everyday, despite the incredible intellectual work taking place within those languages.
The APC's second research development workshop of 2019 took place from 30 October to 1 November at UCT. As customary, it was an intense three days of engaging discussion and critical thinking on pre-circulated work-in-progress across disciplines and academic expertise. A number of new students and associates participated in this workshop, imbuing it with fresh perspectives and ideas.
In July 2019, the Archive and Public Culture research initiative held the first of a series of three workshops undertaken under the umbrella of a Mellon Foundation-funded, Digital Humanities endeavour. The workshops, to be held between mid-2019 and mid-2020, are designed to explore the possibility of constituting a supra-institutional information- and technology-sharing consortium between three projects that have a shared focus on the persistently neglected archive of the long southern African past before European colonialism.
In late August 2019, Carolyn Hamilton, visited the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg, to undertake follow-up research on two aspects of the APC’S Five Hundred Year Archive’s work with this institutional partner.
Carolyn Hamilton’s visit to the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Museum was followed by a fieldtrip to the lower Nsuze region in KwaZulu-Natal organized by KZN Museum chief curator, Gavin Whitelaw. Other participants were Justine Wintjes (curator) and Dimakatso Tlhoaele (research technician) from the Museum, Steven Kotze, researcher in the Durban Local History Museums, and John Wright, a research associate in the APC.
In July, NRF Chair in Archive and Public Culture, Carolyn Hamilton attended a two-day workshop exploring the possibility of an African Heritage Hub Initiative, led at UCT by Prof. Shadreck Chirikure and Prof. Maano Ramutsindela, in collaboration with Robben Island Museum, Iziko Museums and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). The initiative is part of ICCROM's Africa programme “Changing the face of heritage and conservation in Africa #coolheritageafrica”, seeking to support strategic objectives of partnering institutions in Africa.
This was the title of the 27th biennial conference of the Southern African Historical Society, held at Rhodes University in Makhanda between 24-26 June 2019. Among the participants were APC research associates Cynthia Kros and John Wright. Together with Professor Lize Kriel of the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Pretoria, they were members of a panel which discussed the theme ‘Hidden interlocutors: rediscovering the names behind the printed words’. Here Kros gives her impressions of the conference, and comments on her contribution to the panel discussion. Wright and Kriel add comments on their respective contributions.
Jill E. Kelly’s book, To Swim with Crocodiles: Land, Violence, and Belonging in South Africa, 1800-1996, was launched on the second day of the SAHS conference in June 2019. This book offers a fresh perspective on the history of rural politics in South Africa, from the rise of the Zulu kingdom to the civil war at the dawn of democracy in KwaZulu-Natal. The book shows how Africans in the Table Mountain region drew on the cultural inheritance of ukukhonza—a practice of affiliation that binds together chiefs and subjects—to seek social and physical security in times of war and upheaval. Grounded in a rich combination of archival sources and oral interviews, this book examines relations within and between chiefdoms to bring wider concerns of African studies into focus, including land, violence, chieftaincy, ethnic and nationalist politics, and development