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
“Performance, Politics, Power” was the theme for the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association. This took place at Tulane University in New Orleans (USA), from the 30th of May until the 1st of June 2019.
In our previous Gazette we reported in detail on the successful completion of PhDs by Tebogo George Mahashe and Erica de Greef. In the July Graduation Ceremony, the two APC students, gowned in red, went up on the podium to receive their doctorates from UCT Vice-Chancellor Mamokethi Phakeng. We wish them both well and hope to continue to work with them in the APC. Mahashe has since accepted a position in the Michaelis School of Art and will be back at UCT in the new year as a lecturer.
In 2019 the APC welcomed a new cohort of students and some returning students registered for new degrees. Precious Bikitsha, who completed an Honours report on the Xhosa poetess and intellectual, Nontsizi Ngqwetho, has registered for a History MA, and plans further research in African intellectual history, along with another History MA student, Luvuyo Kiti. Daniel Dix also completed his History Honours last year and is undertaking MA research into the historiographically-neglected colonial magistracy system, focusing on the Durban magistracy, 1893-1910.
This was the title of the Killie Campbell Memorial Lecture given by APC research associate John Wright at the Killie Campbell Africana Library in Durban on 17 October 2018. Here he reports.
In the first part of the lecture I outlined what little is known about the life of Thununu kaNonjiya. He was a man of the Qwabe clan who was born in about 1814 and who grew up in the Zulu kingdom of Shaka and Dingane. In the 1840s he and his family moved to the newly formed British colony of Natal. Later in his life he became an acknowledged authority on the history of the Zulu kingdom.