A core component of what we do at the FHYA is being on the lookout for new challenges. This also means learning how to use new tools and testing them both in practice and in theory. From time to time, members of the team focus on a particular software and investigate if and how it can be deployed in digital archival curation. In this spirit, last May FHYA team members Carolyn Hamilton, Ettore Morelli, Rifqah Kahn, Vanessa Chen, along with Michelle House, joined Stefania Merlo and Justine Wintjes from our Afridig partner project Metsemegologolo in an online training session on GIS, or Geographic Information System software.
At the beginning of 2021, the APC launched a Research Group focused on the history of Lesotho and neighbouring areas. Convened by Ettore Morelli, it includes Patrick Whang, Sibusiso Nkomo, Carolyn Hamilton, Mojalefa Koloko and Katleho Shoro, while other APCers join the discussion on specific occasions.
The group’s work is particularly attentive to archives left behind by various historical actors, including scholars, writers and journalists, Sotho royals, missionaries, and colonial officers, covering the 19th and 20th century.
As news broke in April 2021 that a fire at the University of Cape Town had engulfed the Jagger Library and that its unparalleled collection of rare books, manuscripts, recordings, and more was imperilled, Africanists around the world looked on in horror. How many dissertations will never be written, we ask; how many questions never asked, how much history forestalled by this unimaginable loss?
On Thursday August 19th, APC welcomed Dr Lindsay O’Neill, Associate Teaching Professor at the University of Southern California, who presented a lab titled “English Sources and African Lives: Finding the Princes and People of Mpfumo (1715-1723)”. The lab was attended by 22 APC associates, a mix of students, postdocs and researchers. This paper, which forms an early part of Dr O’Neill’s current book project, offered an account of the travels of two high-ranking men from what is now Maputo.
In late July, members of the FHYA participated in the latest of a series of Workshops organised by WiSER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) as part of its Programme of African Digital Humanities (Afridig). Across four days, a total of 20 projects reported on some of the problems and achievements of their in-development digital platforms over the course of the previous year.
The Bibliomatrix is an experimental research tool, early components of which are featured in a presentation on FHYA’s EMANDULO platform, which is currently in a testing phase. The Bibliomatrix experiments with novel ways of engaging with historical data and materials in a digital setting. It does so by illuminating networks of production and reproduction amongst historical materials and scholarship about them. The materials include those viewed as sources, as commentary on sources, and as synthesised historical accounts.
APC Chair Carolyn Hamilton and APC Associate researcher Lesley Cowling contributed to a recently published book, Public Intellectuals in South Africa: Critical Voices from the Past, edited by Chris Broodryk and published by Wits University Press.
APC Postdoctoral Fellow Alírio Karina’s article “The Politics of Witchcraft and the Politics of Blood: Reading Sovereignty and Sociality in the Livingstone Museum” was published in Postmodern Culture, as part of a special issue titled “Unsettle the Struggle, Trouble the Grounds”, that works to explore the frictions, troubles and possibilities that emerge from thinking global Blackness and Indigeneity in conversation.
APC MA student Sandile Ngidi recently published a book review of Mahmood Mamdani‘s latest book, Neither Settler nor Native in the Mail & Guardian’s arts section, “Friday.”
The Archive and Public Culture (APC) research initiative and its fellows, across South Africa and internationally, mourned the untimely passing of our deeply admired colleague, Bhekizizwe Peterson who died on 16 June 2021.