Early in 2018 the APC welcomed a new research administrator, Rifqah Kahn, who now manages the project with great deftness. In September, we said goodbye to APC archivist, Chloe Rushovich who left to do a Masters degree at Cambridge University, and late in the year, to APC librarian and archival assistant, Katie Garrun. In mid- 2018, the NRF Research Chair was renewed for a further five years. Highlights of 2018 in the APC included two remarkable fieldtrips with archaeological angles; two very successful research development workshops at which a total of over 40 research papers were presented; submission of the APC's essay collection, Babel Abroad, to Wits University Press; launch of the open report, Ground of Struggle: Four Decades of Archival Activism; and the publication by APC researchers of some 14 research articles and one book, as well the presentation of 8 exhibitions and performance pieces.
In the week of 20-24 August, 2018, NRF Research Chair, Carolyn Hamilton, participated in the second Theory from Africa Workshop organised by Professor Dilip Menon, of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, Wits University. The workshop tackled the question of what it means to theorise with concepts from the global south about the historical experience of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbeans.
At the beginning of October, I participated in a five-day book manuscript development workshop (MDW) in Dar es Salaam, organised by the African Humanities Programme (AHP) of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). This is just one of the benefits of the AHP programme for which Fellows can apply beyond the fellowship period itself (in my case 2017-18). The AHP programme seeks to reinvigorate the humanities in Africa through fellowship competitions in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The Archival Platform's report, A Ground of Struggle: Four decades of Archival Activism in South Africa was launched on 4 October 2018 at a dialogue convened by the Nelson Mandela Foundation in partnership with the Hanns Seidel Foundation. This event marked the 20th anniversary of the submission of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report to President Nelson Mandela and, concurrently, the launch of the Archival Platform's Report and The Presidential Years, an online archival resource.
The APC's second research development workshop of 2018 took place from 31 October to 2 November at a new venue, Inyathelo in Woodstock. The open, bright, spacious seminar room was a welcome change and proved conducive for both our workshop discussions and the book event which followed. This research workshop epitomised the now-customary critical and engaging discussions of pre-circulated work-in-progress across disciplines and academic expertise, yet also encompassed a remarkable walk-about through an art exhibition and two book events, making it especially noteworthy.
In October, Greener Pastures, an exhibition by Gerald Machona was hosted at the Goodman Gallery in Cape Town. The exhibition is part of his PhD research undertaken in the APC. It is an enquiry into his experience of transnational union between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Follow the link below for more information on this exhibition and his artistic practice.
In mid-September, I attended the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK) 27th biennial conference, held at the University of Birmingham. This massive international conference, with over 800 delegates and 15 exhibitors, contributing to 40 streams and 166 panels, 16 roundtables, and seven book launches, was the Association's largest and most diverse conference yet. Very revealing in my mind was the domination—still—of 'developmental' and 'anthropological' disciplines within African Studies, exemplified by the new books on offer for sale and the majority of panel themes at the conference.
In October 2018, APC Research Chair, Carolyn Hamilton, participated in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Regional Colloquium, The Arts and Humanities in South Africa: Past, Present and Future, held at the University of Stellenbosch. The Colloquium was held to mark thirty years of grant-making in South Africa by the Foundation. It addressed a series of questions: What are key enabling and disenabling legacies and conditions for advancing knowledge, enhancing artistic creativity, undertaking effective teaching and learning, and cultivating the next and new generations of scholars and artists in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS)? What interventions would enable AHSS to flourish in South Africa? How could key South African institutions contribute more effectively to strengthening AHSS and related institutional capacities and individual capabilities?
Jo-Anne Duggan, Archival Platform director and APC research student has been appointed by the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Western Cape Government, to the Western Cape Archives Advisory Committee from 1 April 2019.
The conference "The Past, Present and Future of Namibian Heritage" took place at the University of Namibia from 28-30 August 2018. It was facilitated and organised by the Museum Association of Namibia (MAN) together with the University of Namibia (UNAM), the University of Basel (UBAS) and the Carl Schlettwein Stiftung. The invitation stated the conference's aim, as "to learn lessons from the Past, review our Present practices and plan for the Future (…) by listening and learning from each other" and "building a common vision".
In December, 2018, the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education in Cape Town invited NRF Chair, Carolyn Hamilton, to facilitate a discussion at Tshisimani on the history of the southern African past before European colonialism. The discussion covered: problems of terminology and the need for a conceptual revolution; debated periodization; why and how an understanding of the early periods is central to contemporary political literacy; the nature and extent of the research challenges involved and the ways which they are stalled in the academies.
In November 2018, the second publication from the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences' catalytic project on the pre-colonial historiography of southern Africa, led by Professor Lungisile Ntsebeza, was launched at Nelson Mandela University.
The editors of Whose History Counts, June Bam, Lungisile Ntsebeza and Allan Zinn, position the book as a direct response to the 2015/6 South African university students' call for a decolonized curriculum.