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Odendaal, Rehana. “Wits Imagined: An Investigation into Wits University’s Public Roles and Responsibilities, 1922-1993”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2020.

Fagan, Henry Allan. “The Wider KwaZulu-Natal Region circa 1700 to the onset of Colonialism: A critical Essay on Sources and Historiography”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2020.

This dissertation is an extended essay dealing with historical productions on the late independent era (the late “pre-colonial” epoch) of the wider KwaZulu-Natal region. The project pays particular attention to the development of the historiography and examines how it has shaped and in turn been shaped by the source material over time. Attention is also drawn to issues with terminology and disciplinary convention, including the distinction which is traditionally made between ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ sources. The dissertation’s scope extends beyond the discipline of history to interrogate how influences from the fields of anthropology, art history, archaeology, and literary criticism have shaped the production of history. It also examines the productions of African intellectuals whose works were excluded from the discipline of history during the late colonial and apartheid eras.  Among other things, this essay draws attention to historiographical breaks in the literature and considerers where paradigm shifts and epistemic ruptures can be discerned.

Zaayman, Carine. “Seeing What Is not There: Figuring the Anarchive”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cape Town, 2019.

Absences in archives render as impossible access to the fullness of the past. Yet, within the post-apartheid sociopolitical milieu, demands are made of the slivers of evidence in colonial archives to yield more than they contain, to provide material from which counter-colonial narratives may be fashioned. I understand these demands as pressure exerted on archives. In this thesis, I consider this pressure in relation to historical narrations of the lives of two women from the colonial period of the Cape: Krotoa and Anne. Krotoa was a Goringhaicona woman who acted as an interpreter between the Dutch and the Khoekhoe in the early colonial period at the Cape (from 1652). I examine extant literature on Krotoa to show the various ways in which authors have responded to the pressure on the archives in which she appears and how they have dealt with absences within them. I then discuss a number of instances in the archives to demonstrate that the imprint of absence is clearly visible in these archives. Anne was a Scottish noblewoman who lived at the Cape from 1797 to 1802. I investigate the literature about Anne to show how scholars have responded to the pressure on her archive primarily by overlooking the absences within it. I then consider two aspects of Anne’s archive to demonstrate that it, too, bears the imprint of absence. In contrast to approaches to absence that seek to fill in the gaps in archives, I argue that paying attention to the imprints of absence enables us to begin to grasp something of absence in its own right, that is, the negative space of an archive that constitutes a form of absolute absence. I have named this absolute absence in archives the “anarchive”. Identifying the imprints of absences as indicative of the anarchive has led me to instantiate the anarchive through figuration. This is achieved via visual art methodologies in which I systematically avoid reconstruction and instead convene an archive of photographs whose subject, and the curatorial rationale behind their display, is emptiness and transience. My figuring situates the anarchive centre stage and proposes engagement with it as a means of escaping the constraints of archives. When the full extent of the anarchive is brought into view, the limitations of archives are sharply delineated and their ability to control our understanding of the past is rendered absurd.  


De Greef, Erica. “Sartorial disruption: an investigation of the histories, dispositions, and related museum practices of the dress/fashion collections at Iziko Museums as a means to re-imagine and re-frame the sartorial in the museum”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cape Town, 2019.

In this thesis I investigate and interrogate the historical and current compositions, conditions and dispositions of three collections containing sartorial objects of three formerly separate museums – the South African Museum, the South African National Gallery and the South African Cultural History Museum. Although these three museums were amalgamated in 1999, along with eight other Western Cape institutions to form Iziko Museums, each separate sartorial ‘collection’ retains the effects of the divergent museal practices imposed on its objects over time. I employ the concept of ‘fashion’ in this thesis both to refer to the objects of the study, as well as to the socially-determined set of ideas and ideals surrounding notions such as taste, aesthetics, belonging and modernity. Sartorial objects in museums present strong physical evidence of both deeply personal and extremely public relationships as the traces of and capacity for embodiment imbue these objects with metonymic, subjective and archival capacities. In addition, I employ the contracted form dress/fashion to trouble the commonly held separate notions of ‘fashion’ as a modern, dynamic and largely Western system, and ‘dress’ as ‘traditional’ and an unchanging African sartoriality. I contend that through the terms ‘dress’ and ‘fashion’ – two opposing and segregating tropes still largely present in South African museums – the forms of agency, mutability and historicity applied to Western ‘fashion’ objects, have been and continue to be denied in the collection, classification and curation of African ‘dress’. I use a sartorial focus to unpack the development of and conditions pertaining to each of the museums in this study, namely an ethnographic museum, a cultural history museum and a fine arts museum. I interrogate the three separate phases of dress/fashion objects in these museums, that is, their entry into the collections, their classification and their display. Following each historical investigation, I use a single object-focused strategy to reflect on the specific conditions, dispositions and limitations of these three separate sartorial ‘archives’. I choose to identify and analyse all the trousers found across the three collections (as well as some significant examples that were excluded), as these particular sartorial objects both reflect and offer critical insights into distinct, and often divisive, definitions of gender, politics and socio-cultural attitudes, many of which also changed over time. I offer close readings of a number of trousers (both in and absent from these collections) that make evident the ways in which these divisions have been scripted into the taxonomies, disciplines and exhibitions at Iziko Museums. These practical and conceptual divisions perpetuate the artificial segregation of these museum objects. The divisions are also reflective of wider divisive museal practices that persist despite the efforts of Iziko Museums to transform and integrate their practices and their collections. Drawing on the sartorial as an alternative archive I am able to show the types of histories avowed and disavowed by different museal practices. In addition, the close readings expose the distinct and persistent colonial and apartheid underpinnings of sartorial classification and representation across the three Iziko Museums’ collections almost twenty years after the merger. The trousers readings furthermore, make a number of decolonial affordances evident, as the objects reflect not only alternate histories, but also shared pasts prompting alternative contemporary interpretations. Via the dress/fashion collections, this thesis offers a sartorial approach to ‘decolonising’ the museum. This includes both a reframing of various museal practices and principles, and a contemporary re-imagining of histories and their related identity narratives. Despite contemporary critiques and attempts to transform the disciplinary practices, and various cultural and social distinctions still present in the collections and exhibitions at Iziko Museums, segregation and problematic hierarchies still persist. I show how when considered as an archive, the sartorial makes evident other histories, relationships and interpretations. This approach can contribute towards a new, interdisciplinary dress/fashion museology as both a means of disruption and revision at Iziko Museums, contributing towards new contemporary capacities to curate the sartorial offering alternate, decolonial interpretations of past, present and future South African identity narratives.  


Mahashe, Tebogo George. “MaBareBare, a rumour of a dream”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cape Town, 2019.

This multi-part PhD submission builds on Premesh Lalu’s (2009) assertion that an understanding of the subjectivity of the colonised is irrecoverable from the colonial archive. It does this through my quest for, and my encounter with, fragments associated with an episode of travel to Berlin by some Balobedu in 1897 and, subsequently, by myself in the present. This confrontation with the archive facilitates a meditation on an idea of khelobedu, as a subject effectively trapped by classical anthropology struggling to understand it (khelobedu) as a contemporary reality. Khelobedu is, amongst other things, the language and religion of Balobedu from north-eastern Limpopo province in South Africa. It is used in this PhD project as a conceptual tool to express the complexity inherent in the multiple subjectivities that I inhabit, encounter, respond to and mobilise; that, effectively, I practice. I adopt a range of creative fine art methods to engage khelobedu outside of the prescribed and constraining methodologies of established academic disciplines historically developed as appropriate for the study of African cultural life. My methods involve travelling, dreaming and creative practice as process. Travel has entailed my journeys to Berlin to consult colonial archives related to Balobedu, as well as wider travel to other places (such as Dakar) to visit contemporary art institutions and attend key events profiling my chosen artistic methodologies. I have employed Balobedu dream practices as a way of understanding, and claiming, Balobedu subjectivity, as premised on political agency and opacity. The methodology of creative practice has necessitated the making and staging of art exhibitions and installations within the contemporary art circuit; and persistent documentation of my installations and travels (conversations, cafe encounters and so forth) as artistic process as well as of the demands of practice as a subject itself — specifically instituting several iterations of a camera obscura installation as a response to my dissatisfaction with the documentary impulse that I understand to 'trap’ khelobedu. These methodologies emphasise the idea of play and participation aimed at forming a habit of practice. They collectively contribute to the PhD project as both diagnostic of, and a way of challenging and offering a resolution to, the problem of coloniality in the academy. These processes of practice reiterate that the subjectivity of Balobedu is not just to be sought in the colonial archive but persists, and is recoverable, in contemporary Balobedu such as myself. Through the practices at the heart of this PhD project, I establish that my being a Molobedu cannot be separated from my positions as artist and academic, and so insist on an understanding of Balobedu as contemporaneous, always 'in time’ with all of time’s complexities, recognisable to contemporary subjectivities. The imperative to resist coloniality and to risk a departure from the conventions of the PhD in order to imagine and express khelobedu determines the form of the thesis as an open-ended proposition, emphasising practice and, for now, provisionality.


Ramji, Himal. “Producing the Precolonial: Professional and Popular Lives of Mapungubwe, 1932-2017”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2018.

Bloch, Joanne. “Letting things speak: a case study in the reconfiguring of a South African institutional object collection”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cape Town, 2016.

In this thesis I examine the University of Cape Town (UCT) Manuscripts and Archives Department object collection, providing insights into the origins of the collection and its status within the archive. Central to the project was my application of a set of creative and affective strategies as a response to the collection, that culminated in a body of artwork entitled Slantways, shown at the Centre for African Studies (CAS) Gallery at UCT in 2014.The collection of about 200 slightly shabby, mismatched artefacts was assembled by R.F.M. Immelman, University Librarian from 1940 until 1970, who welcomed donations of any material he felt would be of value to future scholars. Since subsequent custodians have accorded these things, with their taint of South Africa's colonial past, rather less status, for many years they held an anomalous position within the archive, devalued and marginalised, yet still well-cared for. The thesis explores the ways in which an interlinked series of oblique or slantways conceptual and methodological strategies can unsettle conventional understandings of these archival things, the history with which they are associated, and the archive that houses them. I show how such an unsettling facilitates a complex and subtle range of understandings of the artefacts themselves, and reveals the constructed and contingent nature of the archive, as well as its biases, lacunae and limitations in ways that conventional approaches focusing on its evidentiary function allow to remain hidden. This set of slantways strategies includes the use of a cross-medial creative approach, and my focus on an a-typical, marginalised and taxonomy-free collection. Also important is the incorporation of my visual impairment as avital influence on my artwork, leading to an emphasis both on unusual forms of seeing and on the senses of smell, touch and hearing. Furthermore, my choice to follow a resolutely thing-centred approach led me to engage very closely with the artefacts' materiality, and subsequently with their actancy as archival things, which in turn influenced my conceptual and creative choices.  


Mhlambi, Thokozani Ndumiso. “Early radio broadcasting in South Africa: culture, modernity & technology”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cape Town, 2015.

This thesis tells the story of the events that led to a broadcasting culture in South Africa. It then proceeds to show how listeners were gradually brought into the radio community, notwithstanding all the prejudices of the time. Africans were the last ones to be considered for broadcasting, this was now in a time of crisis, during the Second World War. Through a look at the cultural landscape of the time, the thesis uncovers the making of radio in South Africa, and shows how this process of making was deeply contested, often with vexing contradictions in ideas about race, segregation and point of view. The thesis is useful to scholars of history, culture and, more importantly, of music, as it lays the necessary groundwork for in-depth explorations of music styles played and the African artists who grew out of broadcasting activities. In its appeal to a broader audience of literate and illiterate, it sparked the formation of a South African listening public. It also facilitated the presence and domestication of the radio-set within the African home. Radio could account for a whole world out there in the presence of one's home, therefore actively situating African listeners into a modern- global imaginary of listeners. By bringing news from faraway places nearer, radio was a new kind of colonial modern encounter as it sought to redefine the nature of the local. The thesis therefore understands broadcasting as part of those technological legacies through which, in line with V Y Mudimbe (1988: xi), "African worlds have been established as realities for knowledge." Technology therefore appears as a recurring theme throughout this thesis. The primary material was gathered using archival methods. In the absence of an audio archive of recordings of the early broadcasts, the thesis relies to a large extent on written resources and interviews.  


Van Rensburg (née Brown), Jessica Natasha. “Ethics of the dust: on the care of a university art collection”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2015.

This thesis examines the University of Cape Town (UCT) Permanent Works of Art Collection in order to determine its relevance to, and status within, the university. The text traces the historical and current roles of the university art collection in general, before focusing specifically on the UCT art collection’s history, including the contexts, events and personalities which shaped its development, from its embryonic beginnings in 1911, to the present. In an era which demands clear correlations between the allocation of resources and relevance to institutional goals, the contemporary university collection is under pressure to demonstrate its potential as a useful educational and interpretive tool within the university (the so-called ‘triple mission’ of collections: teaching, research and public display), or risk being consigned to obsolescence, even destruction. Based on a survey of the UCT art collection’s holdings, interviews, and a combination of bibliographic and archival research, undertaken between 2011and 2014, the thesis establishes that, whereas most university collections were traditionally constituted for the purpose of teaching and research, or for the preservation and exhibition of historical artefacts pertaining to a university and/or a specific discipline, this collection does not precisely fulfil either function.  


Mataga, Jesmael. “Practices of pastness, postwars of the dead, and the power of heritage: museums, monuments and sites in colonial and post-colonial Zimbabwe, 1890-2010”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cape Town, 2014.

This thesis examines the meanings, significances, and roles of heritage across the colonial and postcolonial eras in Zimbabwe. The study traces dominant ideas about heritage at particular periods in Zimbabwean history, illustrating how heritage has been deployed in ways that challenge common or essentialised understandings of the notion and practice of heritage. The study adds new dimensions to the understanding of the role of heritage as an enduring and persistent source terrain for the negotiation and creation of authority, as well as for challenging it, linked to regimes and the politics of knowledge. This work is part of an emerging body of work that explores developments over a long stretch of time, and suggests that what we have come to think of as heritage is a project for national cohesion, a marketable cultural project, and also a mode of political organisation and activity open for use by various communities in negotiating contemporary challenges or effecting change. While normative approaches to heritage emphasise the disjuncture between the precolonial, colonial and postcolonial periods, or between official and non-official practices, results of this study reveal that in practice, there are connections in the work that heritage does across these categories. Findings of the study shows a persistent and extraordinary investment in the past, across the eras and particularly in times of crises, showing how heritage practices move across landscapes, monuments, dispersed sites, and institutionalised entities such as museums. The thesis also points to a complex relationship between official heritage practices and unofficial practices carried out by local communities. To demonstrate this relationship, it traces the emergence of counter-heritage practices, which respond to and challenge the official conceptualisations of heritage by invoking practices of pastness, mobilised around reconfigured archaeological sites, human remains, ancestral connections, and sacred sites. Counter-heritage practices, undertaken by local communities, challenge hegemonic ideas about heritage embedded in institutionalised heritage practices and they contribute to the creation of alternative practices of preservation. I propose that attention to the relationship between institutionalised heritage practices and community-held practices helps us to think differently about the role of local communities in defining notions of heritage, heritage preservation practices and in knowledge production.


Dodd, Alexandra Jane. “Secular séance: Post-Victorian embodiment in contemporary South African art”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cape Town, 2014.

In this thesis I explore selected bodies of work by five contemporary South African artists that resuscitate nineteenth - century aesthetic tropes in ways that productively reimagine South Africa’s traumatic colonial inheritance. I investigate the aesthetic strategies and thematic concerns employed by Mary Sibande, Nicholas Hlobo, Mwenya Kabwe, Kathryn Smith and Santu Mofokeng, and argue that the common tactic of engagement is a focus on the body as the prime site of cognition and "the aesthetic as a form of embodiment, mode of being-in-the-world" (Merleau - Ponty). It is by means of the body that the divisive colonial fictions around race and gender were intimately inscribed and it is by means of the body, in all its performative and sensual capacities, that they are currently being symbolically undone and re-scripted. In my introduction, I develop a syncretic, interdisciplinary discourse to enable my close critical readings of these post-Victorian artworks. My question concerns the mode with which these artists have reached into the past to resurrect the nineteenth - century aesthetic trope or fragment, and what their acts of symbolic retrieval achieve in the public realm of the present. What is specific to these artists mode of "counter - archival" (Merewether ) engagement with the colonial past? I argue that these works perform a similar function to the nineteenth - century séance and to African ancestral rites and dialogue, putting viewers in touch with the most haunting aspects of our shared and separate histories as South Africans and as humans. In this sense, they might be understood both as recuperations of currently repressed forms of cultural hybridity and embodied visual conversations with the unfinished identity struggles of the artists’ ancestors. The excessive, uncanny or burlesque formal qualities of these works insist on the incapacity of mimetic, social documentary forms to contain the sustained ferocious absurdity of subjective experience in a "post - traumatic", "post - colonial", "post - apartheid" culture. The "post" in these terms does not denote a concession to sequential logic or linear temporality, but rather what Achille Mbembe terms an "interlocking of presents, pasts and futures". This "interlocking" is made manifest by the current transmission of these works, which visually, physically embody a sense of subjectivity as temporality. If the body and the senses are the means though which we not only apprehend the world in the present, but through which the past is objectively an d subjectively enshrined, then it is by means of the ossified archive of that same sensory body that the damage of the past can be released and knowledge/history re - imagined. Without erasing or denying South Africa’s well - documented history of violent categorisation, the hypothetical tenor of these works instantiates an alternate culture of love , intimacy, desire and inter - connectedness that once was and still can be.  


Kellner, Clive. “Representations of the Black subject in Irma Stern's African periods: Swaziland, Zanzibar and Congo 1922-1955”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2013.

This dissertation explores the major themes of Irma Stern's (1894-1966) representation of the black figurative subject in her African periods: Swaziland, Zanzibar and Congo (1922-1955). Germane to these periods are Stern's childhood experience in the Transvaal and her training and influences in Germany. My research aims to do the following: (1) address a gap in the current literature on Irma Stern and her African periods (2) to consider whether Stern's mature periods, Zanzibar and Congo reveal an imaginary 'primitivist' mode of representation. Central to my research is the question of Stern's identity as a woman, settler and Jew, as it is critical to exploring the relation between Stern as a white settler and that of her black figurative subjects as viewed through the discourse of 'primitivism'. My methodology involves drawing from various archives, primary and secondary literature on Stern and Stern's own writings. My visual methodology includes a comparative analysis of Stern's early paintings in relation to her influences and formal and iconographic analysis of select 'mature' paintings.


Putter, Andrew. “Native work: an impulse of tenderness”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2013.

Native Work is an installation-artwork consisting of 38 portrait photographs. It was made in response to an encounter with the archive of Alfred Martin Duggan-Cronin’s photographs of black southern Africans taken between 1919 and 1939. In its creative focus on traditional black South African culture in a post-apartheid context, Native Work is one of a series of related - but independent - projects occurring contemporaneously with it in the city of Cape Town (a situation examined more closely in the conclusion to this document: see p. 33). Native Work is motivated by a desire for social solidarity - a desire which emerges as a particular kind of historical possibility in the aftermath of apartheid. As such, it finds inspiration in Duggan-Cronin’s commitment to affirm the lives of those black South Africans who many of his peers would have dismissed as unworthy subjects of such attention. Native Work echoes that commitment by staying close to an impulse of tenderness discernible in Duggan-Cronin’s life-long project, and pays homage not only to Duggan-Cronin, but also to the expressive life of those who appeared in his work.  


Shoro, Kathleho Kano. “Terms of engaging and project-ing Africa (ns): an ethnographic encounter with African studies through Curate Africa”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2013.

In May 2012 Curate Africa - an ongoing project centered on photography and curation in Africa - was pre-launched at the University of Cape Town (UCT) within the University's Africa Month Celebrations. The project aimed- conceptually and visually - to re-imagine, re-image and re-envision Africa from within Africa and through the lenses of Africans. While this research began as an examination of Curate Africa, the project became a heuristic device through which I began exploring how UCT, on a day-to-day basis, negotiated and continues to negotiate its African identity. In this respect, this dissertation illustrates how Curate Africa and its project leaders - who are also academics within the University - problematised the study and representation of Africa through the intentions of their project, through their individual scholarly pursuits - where they attempt to reimagine the study of Africa(ns) and through the tight scholarly networks that they formed through their scholarly inclinations. Furthermore, this dissertation offers an historical account of the African Studies at UCT as well as an ethnographic account of how the developments and debates around the formation of the "New School" (2012) and around UCT's Afropolitan ambition unfolded within the University and affected those operating in the departments concerned. The principle argument within this dissertation is that projects, however flexible and decolonial in intention, cannot escape being projections of the project leaders' imaginings. Furthermore, projections and ideas of Africa (Mudimbe, 1994) are shaped by perceiving Africa from particular vantage points and within particular contexts laden with histories and complex presents. Perceptions of what "Africa" means and in the case of this research what postcolonial African Studies means continue to be debated from different vantage points within UCT. By and large, this ethnography therefore articulates the scale and challenges of knowledge production centred on the continent in general but, more specifically, the complexities embedded in knowledge production that seeks to be decolonial in its very nature.  


McNulty, Grant. “Custodianship on the periphery: archives, power and identity politics in post-apartheid Umbumbulu, KwaZulu-Natal”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cape Town, 2013.

Since 1994, there have been significant shifts in official systems of record-keeping in South Africa. Notions of tradition and custom have been reconfigured within a legislative environment and in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, what was previously held separately as the domain of the 'tribal subject' (tradition and custom) now intersects with the domain of the democratic citizen (legislation, government records and archives). The intersection of these domains has opened up new cultural and political spaces in which the past in various forms is being actively managed. Through a study of contemporary Umbumbulu in southern KwaZulu-Natal, this thesis explores a host of custodial and record-keeping forms and practices, often in settings not conventionally associated with custodianship and archives. The study takes as its point of departure the Ulwazi Programme, a web initiative of the eThekwini Municipality that its advocates term a collaborative, online, indigenous knowledge resource. It then considers various other locations in Umbumbulu in which the past is being dealt with by certain traditional leaders and local historians such as Desmond Makhanya and Siyabonga Mkhize. The thesis argues that the activities of the subjects of the study reveal a blurred distinction between practices of custodianship and the production of versions of history and posits that they might be best described as practices of curation. Their activities show that the past, in a range of forms, is being mobilised in efforts to gain access to land and government resources, and to enter into the record marginalised historical claims and materials. Moreover, the types of knowledge that flow from their activities at a local level serve to unsettle dominant modes of knowing, including those related to custodianship, archives and identity, and they shape socio-political relations, with amongst others, the Zulu royal family and the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal. The thesis advances the argument that in contemporary KwaZulu-Natal the terms, and the act, of consignation of depositing materials in a repository, out of public circulation and with limited access an action that enables both remembering and, once preserved, the possibility of forgetting, far from being a defined, archival procedure, is a tenuous, volatile, indeed actively negotiated and navigated, process.  


Kashe-Katya, Xolelwa. “Carefully hidden away: excavating the archive of the Mapungubwe dead and their possessions”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2013.

Ever since Jerry Van Graan first stumbled upon golden artefacts in 1933, Mapungubwe - an Iron Age civilisation that existed in the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers between 900 and 1300 AD - has been the subject of contestation. Initially knowledge production about Mapungubwe was informed by the need to make a case for the late arrival of Bantu-speaking people in Southern Africa ? a now discredited theory used to justify the subjugation of Africans. In the post-apartheid era, Mapungubwe became a focal point for a new form of myth-building: the myth of liberation and a romantic past but, in my view, with a neo-liberal bias. In this dissertation I interrogate the role played by the disciplines of archaeology and physical anthropology in the political contestation that has surrounded Mapungubwe, focusing on the production of knowledge. I do this by investigating the claim that Mapungubwe was shrouded or hidden away. In particular, I ask: What happens when disciplinary workings, in the course of knowledge production, construe an archive? What do museums, archives and other memory institutions hide and what do they reveal? What gets acknowledged as archive and what is disregarded? How is this knowledge presented in the public domain over time? Lastly, what happens when the archive is construed differently? My interrogation lays bare the continued discomfort and improvisation that prevails among those disciplines or institutions that engage with Mapungubwe. I have chosen to organise the core chapters of the thesis according to specific timeframes: before apartheid, during apartheid and after apartheid. This is done to demonstrate how archaeology, claimed as a science, was a powerful strategy deployed to exchange the messiness for the "true" knowledge of the past. The research on Mapungubwe, by way of the Greefswald Archaeological Project, was the most prolonged research project in the history of South Africa. Its four research phases, which began in 1933 and ended in 2000, mutated as the broader political landscape shifted. As a result, everything that can possibly play itself out in broader post-apartheid South Africa is present in Mapungubwe: contested claims, racial history, land dispossession, apartheid and the military, repatriation, post-apartheid claims, nationalism, pan-Africanism, ethnicity and more. This thesis demonstrates how the disciplinary practices of archaeology were instrumental in keeping Mapungubwe shrouded. An example of this "shrouding" is the deployment of highly technical language in writing about Mapungubwe. Before the end of apartheid, this epistemic hiding offered a convenient retreat for the discipline, to avoid engaging with issues facing South African society at large. This placed the discipline in a position of power, a position of "truth" and "objectivity". All inconvenient forms of knowledge were simply disregarded or silenced through choices, made by powerful institutions and individuals, about what was worthy of being archived. However, when the archive is differently construed, a different picture emerges.  


Maaba, Lucius Bavusile (Brown). “The History and Politics of Liberation Archives at Fort Hare”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cape Town, 2013.

This thesis, the first of its kind on liberation historiography, seeks to put the liberation movements archives housed at the University of Fort Hare in context. The thesis focuses mainly on the 1990s, when the repatriation of struggle material by Fort Hare working hand in glove with the liberation movements, mainly the African National Congress ANC), the Pan Africanist Congress(PAC) and the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM), was at its height. 


Mwale, Pascal Newbourne. “Questioning Genetically Modified Maize: A Case of Public Debate in the Southern African Media (1997-2007)”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of the Witwatersrand, 2012.

The  thesis  investigates  a  particular  public  communication  practice  in  a  particular  region and  time.  It  addresses  the  question  of  the  shape  of  public  debate  as  a  genre  of  public deliberation,  in  particular  what  public  debate  on  science  looks  like  in  the  media  in Southern  Africa.  It  uses  texts:  print  news  media  texts  that  deal  with  debate  centred  on GM  maize,  in  four  Southern  African  countries,  Zambia,  Malawi,  Zimbabwe  and  South Africa, from 1997 to 2007. The Southern African debate is region-specific and has three key  drivers,  the region‘s under development,  the  centrality  of  maize to  the  region‘s economies, and  the  inhospitability  of  science  to  the political in the region‘s democratic public spheres. Coverage manifests massive slippage in the communication exchanges; it also manifests moments of engagement as in  argumentative  debate and the  energy  and vitality of the political, whose combined effect is the obscuring of the slippage.  It is not a classical debate.  The  regional  debate displays what  the  thesis  terms  babelisation,‘ implying at  least  three  things: rhetorical  moves –reframing,  sidestepping,  telescoping, and  silencing; the  resulting  slippage;  and moments  of engagement as  well  as the  energy and vitality of the political. The rhetorical moves and the slippage constitute the core of the  babelisation inasmuch  as  moments  of  engagement and the  energy  and  vitality  of  the political  render the  Babel  florid  and  complex. The thesis argues that babelisation  is  a particular rhetorical feature of the regional debate. The  thesis  then  proceeds  to  explore  conditions of  babelisation and  it  identifies  at  least three of such.  First, the media have an apparent handicap in how they handle debate.  In the classical public sphere, the media have a double imperative of playing agent of public opinion, highlighting and playing conflict fairly and in  a balanced manner. Fairness and balance   in   representation   entail   factual   and   impartial   journalism,   eschewing bias, framing, sensationalism and hype, all of which raise the spectre of the double bind. This entails that the media‘s provision of space for conflict in debate to play out is considered inadequate in journalistic practice.  Anything less than active mediation implies relay mediation, leading  to  babelisation. Yet,  at  the  heart  of  journalistic  practice,  there  is  a contradiction  about  such  a  role.  The  contradiction  is  this:  journalists  are  expected  to check  on  active  mediation; active  mediation  must  not  be  seen  to  be  ̳overactive‘. Importantly, due to resource-poverty in the region‘s media institutions, journalists resort to relay-mediating issues in debate arising  from science, leading to babelisation.   In this study,  the  double  imperative  turns  into  a  double  bind  for  the  media.  Second,  the inhospitability  of  science  to the political makes  it  difficult  to  bring  the  political  into  an area  where  the  issues  seem  to  be  scientific  and  as  a  result  of  it,  the  protagonists  and antagonists  in  the coverage make communication manoeuvres.  It  appears that this particular play out of coverage has a specific purchase in this region in particular because it  enables  the  entry  of  political  concerns  into  the  same  field  as  science, where science tends to try to seal off the political as interfering in its business, portraying politics as an extra-field activity. Babelisation enables the political to force its way into and fire up an apparent scientific controversy.  Third, the Johannesburg Earth Summit provides a global deliberative forum for the interplay and interpenetration of discourses, precipitating the regional debate, resulting from the upsurge of the political. It transpires in this study that, babelisation allows the political to enter into an area  of  deliberation  where, otherwise, science is ring-fenced. Babelisation allows for colonial and apartheid legacy anxieties and related issues to find media space, gaining sustained visibility and audibility. Finally and yet importantly, babelisation allows for a wider deliberative space, thereby constituting a potentially all-inclusive democracy. Hitherto,  theorists of  journalism  and  media  studies, the  public  sphere,  and  deliberative  democracy  have  not  imagined  this  communication phenomenon. Therefore, the concept of babelisation speaks distinctively to the particular concerns of our particular time in this particular region of Africa.  


Mahashe, George. “Dithugula tÅ¡a Malefokana: paying libation in the photographic archive made by anthropologists E.J. & J.D. Krige in 1930s Bolobedu, under Queen Modjadji III”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2012.

How, and in what ways, might a visually - and artistically - inclined person gain knowledge from a body of ethnographic photographic objects? I approach this question by launching an inquiry into the Balobedu of Limpopo province, South Africa as masters of myth - making, the 1930s anthropologists as masters of perception and myth transmission, the camera as a mechanical tool that has no master and the photographic image and object as a slippery abstract, or thing, that resists taming. What binds Balobedu, anthropologists and photography in this relationship is their collaboration at particular points in time in the production of the knowledge that is now Khelobedu. Khelobedu refers to all knowledge, custom, practices and culture emanating from Bolobedu and its people. To do this, I assume, or play with, the character of ' motshwara marapo ' (keeper of the bones or master of ceremonies), a versed person who officiates in ceremonies involving multiple custodies, doing so by reciting stories and enacting activities that facilitate progress within ceremonies and rituals. My engagement explores the process of pacifying a disavowed ethnographic archive using the performative aspect of the photographic object's materiality with the aim of gaining knowledge of the indigenous and colonial, using concepts with origins in both categories.


Butcher, Clare. “The principles of packing a case study of two travelling”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2012.

The travelling exhibition was formalised in a series of manuals, The Organization of Museums: Practical Advice (Museums and Monuments Series, IX) published by UNESCO as recently as the 1960s. Promoted as a utility for societies seeking to mediate rapid cultural change to one another in the period following the Second World War, my study highlights how certain elements of this display genre could be seen as inherent to all exhibitions: firstly, that carefully selected objects have the power to transport ideological and aesthetic values; secondly, that exhibitions are transient objects, in themselves worthy of study, as constructs of logistical, conceptual, public and political bolts and joints; and thirdly, that exhibition curators often play the role of diplomat – negotiating and mediating meaning across borders of various kinds. Though seemingly an obscure example, the large-scale international exchange of the Exhibition of Contemporary British Paintings and Drawings (1947-8) and the Exhibition of Contemporary South African Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture (1948-9) between the colonial centre and so-called ‘periphery’ of the South African Union, is a complex case study within a certain trajectory of travelling exhibitions. Never dealt with previously, the occurrence of such an exchange is significant not only because of its political context – in an immediate post-war, pre-apartheid moment – but also because many of the curatorial strategies used in the exchange process are heralded in UNESCO’s manual of Travelling Exhibitions (1953). To unpack this British-South African colonial freight could be easily regarded as a ‘merely’ art historical or archival gesture. If however, we understand the archive to be an historically determined framework within which to arrange cultural knowledge (Hamilton 2011), then an archive of travelling exhibitions makes both actual and contingent those cultural arrangements – the transient curatorial ‘principles of packing’ (UNESCO 1963). This project asserts that whether or not an exhibition is designated as such, travelling, as both an approach and the effect of curatorship, becomes the utility for mobilising not only objects but also ideas between contexts as seemingly disparate as those of the 1940s exhibitions or in today’s expansive ‘art worlds’.


Greenwood, Megan. “Watchful witnesses : a study of the Crypt Memory and Witness Centre at St George's Cathedral and its Bearing Witness exhibition process”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2011.

This thesis examines four themes that surface through the Crypt Centre's activities towards its upcoming exhibition entitled Bearing Witness. The themes include the role of remembrance, bearing witness, the parameters of inclusions and exclusions, and the Crypt Centre's physical and symbolic significance.


Winberg, Marlene. “Annotations of loss and abundance: an examination of the !kun children's material in the Bleek and Lloyd Collection (1879-1881)”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2011.

The Bleek and Lloyd Collection is an archive of interviews and stories, drawings, paintings and photographs of and xam and !kun individuals, collected by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd between 1870 and 1881 in Cape Town. My dissertation focuses on the !kun children's material in the archive, created by Lucy Lloyd and the four !kun boys, !nanni, Tamme uma and Da, who lived in her home in Cape Town between 1879 and 1881. Until very recently, their collection of 17 notebooks and more than 570 paintings and drawings had been largely ignored and remained a silent partner to the larger, xam, part of the collection. Indeed, in a major publication it was declared that nothing was known about the boys and stated that "there is no information on their families of origin, the conditions they had previously lived under, or the reasons why they ended up in custody" (Szalay 2002: 21). This study places the children centre stage and explores their stories from a number of perspectives. I set out to assess to what extent the four !kun children laid down an account of their personal and historical experiences, through their texts, paintings and drawings in the Bleek and Lloyd project to record Bushmen languages and literature. In order to do this, I have investigated the historical and socioeconomic conditions in the territory now known as Namibia during the period of their childhoods, as well as the circumstances under which the children were conveyed to Cape Town and eventually joined the Bleek- Lloyd household. I have looked at Lucy Lloyd's personal history and examined the ways in which she shaped the making of the collection in her home. I suggest that a consideration of the loss and trauma experienced by Lloyd may have predisposed her to recognition and engagement of, or at least, accommodation of, the trauma experienced by the !kun boys.


Jappie, Saarah. “From madrasah to museum: a biography of the Islamic manuscripts of Cape Town”. MA Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2011.

This paper focuses on the Islamic manuscripts of Cape Town, locally referred to as kietaabs, written by Muslims predominantly in the 19th century, in jawi (Arabic-Malay) and Arabic-Afrikaans. Inspired by the idea of a 'biography' of the archive and 'the social life of things', the study traces the life of the kietaabs, from their creation and original use, to their role in contemporary South African society, as objects of heritage and identity. It approaches the kietaabs as objects, emphasizing their movements, status and use, rather than their content.

Modisane, Litheko. “‘Suddenly the Film Scene is Becoming Our Scene’! The Making and Public Lives of Black-Centred Films in South Africa (1959-2001)”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of the Witwatersrand, 2009. 

Through an examination of the making and public lives of a selection of apartheid and post-apartheid black-centred films in South Africa: Come Back, Africa (1959), u’Deliwe (1975), Mapantsula (1988), and Fools (1997), their contexts of production, circulation, appropriation and engagement, I investigate the role of film in the public life of ideas. While my focus is chiefly on film, I introduce a brief comparator with the television series Yizo Yizo (1999-2001), where I deploy the same methodology. To this end, I ask how these films relate to ongoing contemporary discourses about black identity. To explain the making and extended public lives of the films, I combine elements of public sphere theory, literary theory and film analysis to develop a theoretical model that treats film as a circulating text open to appropriation and engagement over time. The results indicate that in ways that shifted throughout the films’ public lives, their genres, modes of circulation as well as contexts of their appropriation, mediate the manner and extent of their relations to critical public engagements of black identity. I argue that through the combination of its nature as a modern form and its specific generic attributes, with the conditions and circumstances of its circulation and engagement, film stimulates critical public engagements of certain types. Film achieves what I have called public critical potency, when its content directly or otherwise, resonates with contemporary social and political struggles. Through its public critical potency, which is the capacity of film to stimulate critical public engagements, film demonstrates its importance in the public life of ideas. However, film also has the potential to fail in that respect. As a result, the margin between its success and potential for failure to achieve public critical potency, makes precarious, the role and status of film in the public life of ideas. In examining film as a circulating text over time, the thesis challenges approaches that investigate the public sphere of film solely in terms of genre and cinematic spectatorship. In the process, it has engaged the concepts of ‘film’ and ‘public’ within film studies in a way that recognizes its wide reach and extensive role in the public sphere. In the final analysis, the thesis is instructive with regard to the ways in which film may or may not relate to the public sphere in repressive and post-repressive societies in particular, and in modernity in general.


Finlay, Alan William. “Making space: The counterpublics of post-apartheid independent literary publishing activities (1994-2004)”.  MA Dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, 2009.

This thesis explores how independent literary publishing activities during the period 1994-2004 sought to engage in public debate and deliberation, and thereby moved beyond purely literary concerns. It explores how the publishers understood their publishing activities as acts of public engagement and contestation, and argues that they can usefully be considered counterpublics, a characteristic which feels unique to the post-apartheid period. The mid-1990s saw a surge in literary publishing activity in South Africa that included journals and magazines, books, pamphlets, websites, readings and performances, and recordings. These publishing activities can be considered independent in that they occurred outside the support structures of institutions such as the commercial book publishing industry or universities, and were typically initiated by writers, who relied on their own time, energy and skills to publish. While independent literary publishing was not a new thing in South Africa, the post-apartheid period showed some striking features, including a heightened concern with the act of publishing itself, the emergence of several black-owned publishers, and a new relationship to the state in terms of access to funding. This thesis focuses on the publishing activities of five publishers: Dye Hard Press, Botsotso, Timbila, Kotaz and Chimurenga. It discusses the often complex contribution the publishing activities make to what we consider a post-apartheid public sphere that is central to democracy, and to public deliberation broadly conceptualized. It argues that public sphere theory offers a way of talking about the divergent characteristics of the publishing activities, which can be considered acts of poetic world making that position themselves in contestation with the post-apartheid mainstream. They are counterpublic in that their world making tends to contest the exclusions of the mainstream in publishing and editorial practice. However, it suggests that their relationship to the mainstream is at times ambivalent, and their independence not always assured. This is particularly felt in the reliance of some of the publishers on state and state-aligned arts bodies for funding for their survival, but also in other areas such as their difficult relationship with commercial book dealers, and the mainstream media. This thesis suggests that it is here where the very nature of both their dependence on and independence from the dominant public as publishing activities is in itself a shifting site of contestation. Their proximity to the mainstream 3 in terms of state funding also suggests the need for a theorization of what we might call “embedded counterpublics” in highly stratified societies such as South Africa.


Garman, Anthea. “Antjie Krog, Self and Society: The Making and Mediation of a Public Intellectual in South Africa”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of the Witwatersrand, 2009.

In post-colonial, post-apartheid South Africa, the avowedly Africanist, nationalist government has taken seriously that as part of the functioning of democracy, this new nation needs a vibrant public space for the airing of ideas and the formation of public opinion. Thus, a crucial priority for the functioning of the public sphere is the widening of the public domain, beyond the participation of the bourgeoisie, to facilitate the inclusion of the voices of the black majority. But, an interesting – and volatile – dimension of the South African public sphere is the rhetoric about its parlous state, and a strong concern with who populates this public sphere and what ideas they put into public. A great many “calls” have been made for various types of intellectuals to take up public positions and contribute to the healthiness of public life. Coupled with these calls are statements invoking Edward Said’s style and ideas about public intellectual representation, and the phrase “speaking truth to power” (with a multiple interpretations) has become a familiar one in these debates in South Africa. There are furious discussions about styles of engagement, suitable subject matter, sources of authority, vested interests and arguments about degrees of independence. A notable feature of these debates is that they are often couched in the language of “crisis” which, I argue, points not to the overt dangers being espoused, but another one entirely – a crisis about what constitutes authority to speak in public and to be a proxy for those who cannot or do not speak. This sense of “crisis” in the South African public sphere has echoes all over the world where similar debates about the public domain and public intellectuals are also taking place. Asserting that these debates are evidence of a deep anxiety about authority and legitimacy, I have chosen to focus on one particular public figure in South Africa, Antjie Krog, the poet, journalist and book author, who for four decades has found a public and a hearing for her ideas. In a time when white Afrikaners have been dispossessed of social and political power, it is remarkable that Krog has both platform and voice, when who speaks for whom and on what issues in the South African public space is so fraught. I argue that the study of Krog shows that the ability to speak in public is more than simply a matter of agency and the acquisition of skilled speech and the facility of representation (as in Said’s formulation of what makes a public intellectual). This thesis asserts that the agency to speak is powerfully connected to accumulated authority and that an investigation of the makers and markers of authority enables an understanding of how a particular person comes to have a platform in public, despite dramatically shifting social and political circumstances. The case study of Krog shows that the literary aesthetic, and an adaptive subjectivity responsive to the ethical, combined with accumulated authority acquired across fields and married to the power of media attention, is what gives this white, Afrikaans-speaking woman poet her voice and hearing in South Africa today.


Masango, Philile.“An Analysis of the Engagements of Intellectuals and Intellectual activity in the South African Media: A case study of the Native Club”. MA Dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, 2009.

The primary aim of this study was to investigate how, and in what ways, the issue of intellectuals and intellectual activity is engaged in the media, specifically by investigating what issues were raised in the media by the formation of the Native Club in 2006. I examined how issues about the Native Club entered public debate through the media and which individuals spoke in the debate. To fulfil the objectives of the research, I mapped and analysed writings on the topic in the mainstream, commercial English and Afrikaans newspapers as well as other text-based media forums, such as websites, for a period of three months from the inception of the Native Club. I then used interviews and text analysis to answer the primary question of the research. By drawing on media theories such as agenda-setting, I also sought to answer questions about the mechanisms by which the debate entered into and stayed in the media, as well as how these debates were framed. The findings of this research reveal that although some newspapers did not cover the Native Club at all, in the more educated and affluent Afrikaans and English-language newspapers, media engagement with the issue was extensive, suggesting that this sector of the media was widely available as a space for public deliberation. However, the findings reveal that this did not necessarily translate to the media being able to fulfil all of their responsibilities as a tool for participatory democracy, because they failed to question and bring out some of the contentious issues about the Native Club, such as its perceived link to the office of the president of South Africa and its funding by the government. Another key finding was that although the local debate around intellectual issues was generally in line with global trends, and reflected similar positions in the contestation about who is an “intellectual”, the role of the intellectual in society, and which position they should speak from, South Africa’s case was somewhat peculiar in the sense that definitions of intellectuals go beyond their capabilities, role and positions, into what race they are. The study concludes by acknowledging that the question of intellectual activity is considered significant and remains high on the South African media agenda, and extensive coverage is given to it, but that, drawing from the findings, certain South African intellectuals feel there is a need for an alternative public sphere (like the Native Club) other than the media. However, there seems to be no agreement on how an ideal public sphere would operate.


Wanless, Ann. “The Silence of Colonial Melancholy: The Fourie Collection of Khoisan Ethnologica”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of the Witwatersrand, 2007.

Between 1916 and 1928 Dr Louis Fourie, Medical Officer for the Protectorate of South West Africa and amateur anthropologist, amassed a collection of some three and a half thousand artefacts, three hundred photographs and diverse documents originating from or concerned with numerous Khoisan groups living in the Protectorate.  He gathered this material in the context of a complex process of colonisation of the area, in which he himself was an important player, both in his official capacity and in an unofficial role as anthropological adviser to the Administration.  During this period South African legislation and administration continued the process of deprivation and dehumanisation of the Khoisan that had begun during the German occupation of the country.  Simultaneously, anthropologists were constructing an identity for the Khoisan which foregrounded their primitiveness.  The tensions engendered in those whose work involved a combination of civil service and anthropology were difficult to reconcile, leading to a form of melancholia.  The thesis examines the ways in which Fourie’s collection was a response to, and a part of the consolidation of, these parallel paradigms.   Fourie moved to King William’s Town in South Africa in 1930, taking the collection with him, removing the objects still further from their original habitats, and minimising the possibility that the archive would one day rest in an institution in the country of its origin.  The different parts of the collection moved between the University of the Witwatersrand and a number of museums, at certain times becoming an academic teaching tool for social anthropology and at others being used to provide evidence for a popular view of the Khoisan as the last practitioners of a dying cultural pattern with direct links to the Stone Age.  The collection, with its emphasis on artefacts made in the “traditional” way, formed a part of the archive upon which anthropologists and others drew to refine this version of Khoisan identity in subsequent years.  At the same time the collection itself was reshaped and re-characterised to fit the dynamics of those archetypes and models.  The dissertation establishes the recursive manner in which the collection and colonial constructs of Khoisan identity modified and informed each other as they changed shape and emphasis.  It does this through an analysis of the shape and structure of the collection itself.  In order to understand better the processes which underlay the making of the Fourie Collection there is a focus on the collector himself and an examination of the long tradition of collecting which legitimised and underpinned his avocation.  Fourie used the opportunities offered by his position as Medical Officer and the many contacts he made in the process of his work to gather artefacts, photographs and information.  The collection became a colonial artefact in itself.  The thesis questions the role played by Fourie’s work in the production of knowledge concerning the Bushmen (as he termed this group).  Concomitant with that it explores the recursive nature of the ways in which this collection formed a part of the evidentiary basis for Khoisan identities over a period of decades in the twentieth century as it, in turn, was shaped by prevailing understandings of those identities.   A combination of methodologies is used to read the finer points of the processes of the production of knowledge. First the collection is historicised in the biographies of the collector himself and of the collection, following them through the twentieth century as they interact with the worlds of South West African administrative politics, anthropological developments in South Africa and Britain, and the Khoisan of the Protectorate.  It then moves to do an ethnography of the collection by dividing it into three components.  This allows the use of three different methodologies and bodies of literature that theorise documentary archives, photographs, and collections of objects.  A classically ethnographic move is to examine the assemblage in its own terms, expressed in the methods of collecting and ordering the material, to see what it tells us about how Fourie and the subsequent curators of the collections perceived the Khoisan.  In order to do so it is necessary tooutline the history of the discourses of anthropologists in the first third of the twentieth century, as well as museum practice and discourse in the mid to late twentieth century, questioning them as knowledge and reading them as cultural constructs.   Finally, the thesis brings an archival lens to bear on the collection, and explores the implications of processing the collection as a historical archive as opposed to an ethnographic record of material culture. In order to do this I establish at the outset that the entire collection formed an archive.  All its components hold knowledge and need to be read in relation to each other, so that it is important not to isolate, for example, the artefacts from the documents and the photographs because any interpretation of the collection would then be incomplete.  Archive theories help problematise the assumption that museum ethnographic collections serve as simple records of a vanished or vanishing lifestyle.  These methodologies provide the materials and insights which enable readings of the collection both along and across the grain, processes which draw attention to the cultures of collecting and categorising which lie at the base of many ethnographic collections found in museums today.   In addition to being an expression of his melancholy, Fourie’s avocation was very much a part of the process of creating an identity for himself and his fellow colonists.  A close reading of the documents reveals that he was constantly confronted with the disastrous effects of colonisation on the Khoisan, but did not do anything about the fundamental cause.  On the contrary, he took part in the Administration’s policy-making processes.  The thesis tentatively suggests that his avocation became an act of redemption.  If he could not save the people (medically or politically), he would create a collection that would save them metonymically.  Ironically those who encountered the collection after it left his hands used it to screen out what few hints there were of colonisation.  Finally the study leads to the conclusion that the processes of making and institutionalising this archive formed an important part of the creation of the body of ethnography upon which academic and popular perceptions of Khoisan identity have been based over a period of many decades.