18 to 20 July 2012
Jessica Natasha Brown
This brief paper is intended to form part of a greater research project on the University of Cape Town Permanent Art Collection in order to fulfil the requirements of a Masters Degree of Art in Fine Art. Taking as its starting point an instance of minor controversy in the life of the Collection, different imagined functions of its role are revealed. This text represents an attempt to assess the judgements of value that influence the University's perceived function and use of art, with reference to the concepts of 'university culture' and 'patronage'.
Clare Butcher: Digging, unpacking, staging
This paper is the first draft of my thesis chapter analysing the methodology behind my research.
I have analysed two key texts addressing the so-called Archival and Historiographic Turns in contemporary art practice, following this with a number of particular examples which have informed my own approaches.
In the final section I outline a number of the phases of my own investigation in the last 18 months, as something of a precursor to the final moments of my project in October.
Nokuthula Cele: 'Call it a Magcaba Dance, it is our dance'
The paper examines the role of the Ngoma (traditional dance), as a tool for inclusion and exclusion in a small village called Zwelibomvu, a community about 40 miles west from central Durban, South Africa. The paper revisits the generic definition of the Ngoma in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (SA) as Zulu Dance.
The pre-colonial history of KwaZulu-Natal is characterised by wars of conquest, migration and incorporation (into the Zulu kingdom). The history of the pre Shakan communities, and their culture, lifestyle and belief systems, is becoming part of the growing body of scholarship that recognises and appreciates such communities. Zwelibomvu is a village in which community building took a conglomerate form, whereby people of different cultural, clan (defined as a group of people sharing family ties, culture and a line of descent) or ethnic backgrounds came to live together as one village.
At a village level within Zwelibomvu, as part of their remembrance and appreciation of their pre-colonial past, one finds pockets of social and cultural networks that individuals from various surnames, especially males, tend to identify or associate themselves with. Some of these associations take the form of kinship or dance (Ngoma) associations that are conservative, masculinist and patriarchal in nature.
This article examines the manner in which certain clans/surnames have used the Ngoma events to stake claims to higher positions on the social ladder, negotiate differences, create socio-economic security networks, establish and mark group identity, connect to the ancestors and, sometimes, manipulate marriage choices at a village level. Based on published, unpublished and archival sources, and oral histories of the Zwelibomvu residents, my research traces the history of the Ngoma associations from the time the ancestors of Zwelibomvu residents became scattered throughout what became the KwaZulu-Natal in the 1820s and 1830s, until some of them settled and built a village that came to be called Zwelibomvu. The article argues that processes of community building took different forms. The Ngoma associations have been part of that community building since the pre-colonial period. When the colonial system took over in Natal, it tapped into some of these local systems and, where possible, had them interwoven within the colonial apparatus of domination. The social relations were not necessarily Zulu, they took an independent local form that left them intact as, for example, Khwela or Magcaba dance associations. The history of such cultural networks should be unearthed because they underpin the cultural, social and political workings of the community under discussion, and thus the significance of the Ngoma associations in the making of the Zwelibomvu community.
Alexandra Dodd: Séantific Investigation: Forensic conjurings in Kathryn Smith's Jack in Johannesburg
In 2003, artist Kathryn Smith enacted a public, site-responsive performance called Jack in Johannesburg in a darkened room of the Johannesburg Art Gallery with its grand colonial architecture. The performance was part of an ongoing cycle of work, arising out of the artist's childhood obsession with Jack the Ripper, the unidentified serial killer who preyed on female prostitutes in the working class slums surrounding Whitechapel in the East End of Victorian London in 1888. Key to the genesis of Smith's series was her discovery of British painter Walter Sickert's alleged relationship to (and documented obsession with) the Ripper murders, coupled with the fact that a number of Sickert's paintings are housed in the public collections of several South African art galleries, a legacy of these institutions' colonial era origins.
In this paper, I explore some of the ways in which Smith's 2003 performance gave resolutely oblique public expression to the more shadowy aspects of the artist's own identity as a white female artist in 21st Johannesburg working through the psychic and cultural traces of her colonial-era origins. I examine the counter-archival and séance-like aspects of Jack in Johannesburg, and the ways in which the work gives credence to the less monumental scripts and unspoken histories that run beneath the official currents of South African public life.
From the sixteenth century onwards, many letters and travel diaries of Spanish colonists have been found, which have described how the Native American people lived. This paper is dedicated to analysing the perception of the indigenous people within these chronicles. The analysis focuses on two manuscripts - the writings of a Fransiscan priest and those of a Jesuit priest - combined with other documents. It is believed that this analysis provides crucial means for understanding the time of Arauco war, which lasted for over three centuries, and the perception of the indigenous people by the colonising society.
Anette Hoffmann: War/Grammar/Echo
During WWI an estimated of 650 000 colonial soldiers, recruited by the Triple-Entente, were sent to European battlefields. Yet in most historiographies the involvement of the non-white soldiers in the war has attracted scant comment.
German propaganda activities against colonial soldiers alerted linguists and anthropologists to the presence of colonial soldiers in the POW camps, who thus became the target of research. Resulting from this, the Lautarchiv (sound archive) in Berlin holds some 400 recordings of African prisoners of war, which were produced between 1915-18 by the Königlich Preussische
Phonographische Kommission. Few of those recordings have been translated so far.
In this paper I understand these recordings not as voices but as echo - of accounts of the self, and of the war at times, using the concept of echo as a means to grapple with extraction, limitation, distance, and the distortion or outright effacement that is the result of mediation, the delay (or belatedness of hearing), the gaps in meaning and intelligibility. The restraints imposed on the speaker are a result of the linguists' will to extract grammar from semantics, so as to limit the potential distraction that a narrative of an ordeal (being hungry, wounded, homesick, betrayed, insulted) could entail.
Conceptualising the recorded voices and their translation as echoes I seek to understand the status of voices recorded according to the logic of linguistic practice, the situation in the camps, so as to position these subaltern articulations in their mediated, distorted form as part of the colonial archive.
Xolelwa Kashe-Katiya: Chapter 2: Mapungubwe (Re) discovered
The paper forms part of a broader research project that I am undertaking towards the fulfilment of the requirements of my MPhil in Heritage and Public Culture degree at the University of Cape Town. The research will potentially help in unearthing my continued discomfort in engaging with Mapungubwe especially with regard to the role played by Physical Anthropology, a discipline tainted by a history of imposing a colonial gaze on African bodies. Although I studied Archaeology and specialised in Physical Anthropology, for the purposes of the current research I adopt a multitude of canons in order to come to terms with the Mapungubwe legacy that is fraught with contestation and politics. In addition to coming to terms with Mapungubwe as a site, I also grapple with how archaeology as a discipline becomes entangled with Mapungubwe, specifically with rise of Iron Age Archaeology in South Africa.
The methodological potentials that are considered by Carolyn Hamilton (2011) in her reading of the James Stuart archive have been borrowed for my engagement with Mapungubwe, which for the purposes of this project, is deemed to be an archive. The Mapungubwe Archive thus includes the Mapungubwe Collection at the University of Pretoria, the human remains that have been reburied on Mapungubwe Hill, as well as the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, which is a World Heritage Site. Hamilton's notion of biography of an archive covers the period from when the material is first engaged with a view of entering some form of recognised preservatory housing. According to this notion, many collections are made with an eye to a possible archival future and this is explored with regards to the Mapungubwe archive. Another dimension of biography, according to Hamilton, is that it asks us to focus on the way in which the subject of inquiry acts upon the world around it and in turn how it is acted upon by the world in which it is engaged (2001).
In this project, the process through which the 'human remains', the associated artefacts (grave goods) and the landscape retain some of the core aspects of their initial subjectivity is explored. Also, how that subjectivity changes over time becomes of great interest. With the 'human remains' buried, only the collection at the University of Pretoria, as well as fragmented archival sources and the landscape itself remain for my enquiry. This archive, however, provides a wealth of information that is revealing in terms of how Mapungubwe acted and continues to act on the world around it. Newspaper clippings, government deliberations, pictures, letters, even speeches become valuable sources of information, while all the time I remain aware of the absence of oral accounts and other forms of local knowledge from the record. This absence provides a unique research opportunity that may complement the archaeological research on Mapungubwe. This is where the notion of backstory, as proposed by Hamilton (2011) becomes relevant. First, it negates pre-colonial borders or political/cultural organisation of the Shashe-Limpopo landscape. Also it enables an investigation into the motivation for the preservation and circulation of oral accounts of the sacredness of Mapungubwe Hill.
Dishon G Kweya: History in the margins: Rev. Anduuru and the invention of community history for a modern Ebunyole
Modernity has fundamentally altered the ways of knowing of the Abanyole of Western Kenya. The upshot has been subtle, often explicit, interrogation of the insider/outsider dichotomy that has been the central figure of the practice of everyday life. One of the paradoxes of the shift is the rise of Rev Aggrey Anduuru from one of the outsider clans to the unprecedented position of the contemporary custodian of the archive of community histories that legitimate the social hierarchies. But the more remarkable upshot is the general popular trans-clan approval of his unique role in disregard of the conventional clan hierarchies and the contestations between the two clan cohorts, which would both make such office untenable and undermine the possibility of Anduuru's custodianship of the office. The corollary is the contradiction in the grand narratives that legitimate the Nyole clan hierarchies coming firmly under the control of a man whom they negate.
Based on material gathered ethnographically in Ebunyole recently, this paper explores strategies of producing a local postcolonial intellectual and the procedures he devises to negotiate his marginalisation in his own community to position himself at the helm of a community in transformation. The paper seeks to understand the processes and consequences of Anduuru's engagement with the community archive to familiarise it and make it less threatening; and to recover his subjectivity which the archive negates, the politics of literacy and the mediation of oral history, the kinds of histories he produces, and the ways in which such histories help him construct and assert his authority as the memory of a postcolonial society in transition.
Nicola Lazenby: The Scaffolding of Silence: Narratives of the SADF soldier
Numerous books, theatre productions, short films, art exhibitions and documentaries have surfaced over the last few years, and continue to surface at the time of writing, on the experiences of SADF soldiers in what will provisionally be termed the South African 'Border War', which seem to be in response to a perceived silence in the way this era, and those who were involved, are remembered. The assertions made by these various cultural productions suggest that there has, up till now, been no attempt made to engage or grapple with these narratives, and that in fact these narratives might even be considered 'taboo' in present day South African society. This has been flagged as being of particular concern due to the traumatic nature and legacy of the SADF soldiers' experiences. The assertions made by these cultural productions has occasioned this paper's exploration into the conditions of silence which have, until recently, served as a scaffold holding up and rendering the trauma of the everyday experiences of the SADF invisible.
The paper is a consolidation of the 18 months I have spent working with the Krige Collection. What began as an exploration of discourse around my 2010 documentary presentation Gae lebowa and an anthropological archive's viability as a tool for recovering indigenous knowledge became an exploration of the concept of genre within the realm of vision. The Krige monograph becomes a multidimensional visual artefact that subordinates both the photograph and the text in favour of a richer visual language, prompting me to ask myself: what does it mean to see or render something visible? What was a study of the photographs as neutral documents needing external activation that contains both the history and knowledge of Balobedu and the anthropologist has become objects that put in to question the very idea of seeing, testing the limits of perception - that of the photographer, subject and audience.
Thokozani Mhlambi: What is at stake in the voice of radio? The early radio broadcasts in Zulu in South Africa, circa 1938-1942
The current paper grapples with the SABC annual report from the 1938-1942, in relation to the early radio broadcasts. It deals with some of the issues unfolding in the annual reports by looking at parliamentary proceedings as well as scholarly documents discussing the same period. We may want to think about the early broadcasts in relation to rapid changes in the social landscape that were happening in tandem with the broadcasts; the world war, dissention in parliament with regards to the role of broadcasting, and, in addition to this, perspectives given public culture (most notably by the Zulu Society). The central investigation of the paper is: what is at stake in the voice of radio?
Grant McNulty: 'Some of these things aren't written in books, we only have history...'
This paper investigates claims to custodianship of the past between traditional leaders and the eThekwini Municipality in Umbumbulu, near Durban. Following the restructuring of municipal borders in Durban, the municipality and traditional leaders function as different parts of cooperative local government. Yet, in many cases, they operate in competing roles. There is increasing pressure on traditional leaders to defend and preserve the tradition and custom on which their authority is based but also to bow to an administrative regime that calls for protocol, accountability and records.
Claims to custodianship of indigenous knowledge and heritage (on the part of the municipality), and tradition and custom by the traditional leaders are mobilised in attempts to consolidate power in Umbumbulu. The balance of power has shifted to the ANC and the traditional leaders realise that an important body of knowledge they still command or embody, is tradition and custom, not only as an institution and through the cultural knowledge they transmit from generation to generation but also as living descendants of long lineages with direct access to the ancestors. This is a body of knowledge of the past that the ANC government is beginning to gain access to and officialise through projects like the Ulwazi Wiki. In spite of this, traditional leaders (including those who are ANC-aligned) remain the primary determiners of the meaning of tradition and custom, and in a non-institutionalised environment, the custodians thereof.
Mario Pissarra: A preliminary overview of Malangatana's exhibition output: patterns, ruptures and uncertainties
This paper surveys Malangatana's extensive exhibition output, spanning the anti-colonial, post-independence and globalisation eras. It pays particular attention to the geo-political and geo-cultural range of his exhibitions in order to illuminate both the success and limits of his global reach, as well as his presence within Mozambique. It aims to highlight the factors enabling, impeding and ultimately shaping his national and international success.
The work discussed in this paper was made over a six-month period, from February to July 2012, as the practical component for a Masters in Fine Art with a focus on archives. Production is now finished. Two months of post-production is anticipated, during which time retouching, printing, presentation of - and writing about - the work will take place. The project unfolded in three phases, each of which were largely unanticipated. This paper chronicles that unfolding.
Christoph Rippe: Picturing a Ritual Moment - Reassembling the Ingcubhe
This essay is a first draft on fieldwork and archival research carried out between 2011 and 2012. Due to ongoing research on the matter, it may read like a field report in parts. I present three visual accounts - as well as their photographers and painters, the occasion of reception,
and the events leading to them - of the annual practice of the 'feast of first fruits', or umkhosi, as performed by amaBhaca communities living between Creighton and Umzimkhulu, in between the 1890s and 2012.
The region under discussion was, over time, divided between areas called Natal, the Transkeian Territories, East Griqualand and the Eastern Cape, and eventually was unified as KwaZulu-Natal. This region has been highly populated, not only by supposed 19th century African refugees from the north, but also by various denominations of missionaries, such as Protestant American Board, Wesleyan Methodists and Roman Catholic Trappists. It is the latter's efforts of representation and interaction with local communities that this article is about.
I discuss the particular ritual performance, referred to by amaBhaca and Inhlangwini communities as ingcubhe, literally through time and space in order to address questions such as why this particular event has been at the centre of photographic, ethnographic and moralistic explorations; what the interests and motivations of the people with representative agency were; how a repetitive event such as the ingcubhe can be read as a discourse in and against the photographic and textual archive. And how social actors over time, including the researcher were involved in reassessing and reassembling a cultural practice in their respective present.
Chris Saunders: More OBO: 'South Africa post c.1850'
John Wright and Simon Hall presented a bibliography to the April 2012 workshop on 'Southern Africa to 1850'. I was not able to attend that workshop, but have been told that their presentation aroused considerable interest and debate. In this paper I provide the bibliography that I completed some months ago for the same series: Oxford University Press's Oxford Bibliographies Online (OBO), the African section of which is to become available in October this year. Readers of this paper may wish to look again at the Wright and Hall paper and reflect on the differences between the two bibliographies and how such differences relate to the respective literatures.
I discuss how I decided on categories and made selections from a very large literature, much larger than that which Wright and Hall had to consider. The bulk of this paper, like theirs, is taken up by the bibliography itself. Like all OBO bibliographies, it is envisaged as on ongoing project, which will be updated from time to time. Any critical comment can therefore be taken into account in preparing future versions.
Katleho Shoro: Project-ing Africa
Presented here, is a glimpse into my current ethnographic research centred on a project called Curate Africa. The project was 'pre-launched' on Africa Day 2012 as one of UCT's main 'Celebrate Africa Month at UCT' events. The first part of the paper serves as a brief introduction to Curate Africa accompanied by the beginning stages of me thinking through my multi-layered insider/outsider positionality within the research - and with regards to the project, the project leaders, the university and the continent.
The second part of the paper consists of ethnographic descriptions of some of the processes that shaped the pre-launch. In particular, the mapping of Africa on the floor of the Baxter Theatre and the creation (and end-product) of the Curate Africa video and logo are described and discussed. It is through the exploration of some of these processes as well as those that continue to shape the project, that I propose that Curate Africa is the projection of the project leaders' (and members') imaginings of Africa. Furthermore, albeit prematurely, I propose that the establishment and negotiation of partnerships, the chosen and rejected visual representations of the project itself and Africa (through mediums such as the logo, video and website) as well as other choices, such as the themes under which photographs will be collected and curated, all speak to a (pre)curatorial process currently underway within the project. What I have chosen to call the '(pre)curatorial' process, for now, seems to be that which is intended to act as the foundation and guide for the primary/foregrounded acts of curating Africa for which the project is theoretically preparing.
In the last part of the paper I touch on the expanded Africa Month celebrations that took place throughout the month of May at the University of Cape Town (spearheaded by DVC Thandabantu Nhlapo). What has been illuminated thus far through the investigation of Africa Month has been the complexity of the university and its constituencies, some of the conversations that Curate Africa's Africa is having with the DVC and Africa Month Committee's Africa as well as the understanding that one cannot take the reasons that people have for invoking an African perspective on anything for granted.
Hedley Twidle: Not all there? The Assassin, the Station Bomber and the Betrayer
Writing Tsafendas, John Harris and the African Resistance Movement
As part of a wider enquiry into 'literary non-fiction' in South Africa, this piece explores a series of narratives from the apartheid past that remain somehow obscure, awkward or unusable - at least for the purposes of national allegory and nationalist historiography. The collapse of the African Resistance Movement following the decision of one of its leaders to turn state witness in 1964; the trial and execution of member John Harris, the 'Station Bomber', in 1965; the case of Dimitri Tsafendas, who stabbed to death Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd in 1966 - these events have been refracted into a wide range of rhetorically complex, contested and often unstable modes: microhistory and speculative biography (Henk van Woerden); jail diary, courtroom drama and post-TRC memoir (Eddie Daniels, Hugh Lewin, Albie Sachs); confession and apologia (Adrian Leftwich); thinly veiled novelisation or roman à clef (Nadine Gordimer, C J Driver); experimental play-making and 'poor theatre' (Athol Fugard); the postmodern short story cycle (Ivan Vladislavić, Zoë Wicomb).
How, I hope to ask, might one read the various 'literary' treatments of these figures alongside each other, particularly in a context where the 'official' histories of these events remain curiously unwritten? An historicist impulse here seeks simply to thicken a sense of the South African past, and to assess what valence one can give to avowedly speculative or formally experimental engagements with the apartheid archive. A more literary-critical approach seeks to probe the matter of genre itself. What are the possibilities and limits of each mode? What is it that each can or cannot say, and why?
18 - 20 April 2012
Clare Butcher: The Principles of Packing - roots and routes of temporary travelling exhibitions
This paper is the first draft of a thesis chapter, which aims to contextualise my case study of the touring exhibitions of contemporary art travelling between Britain and South Africa (1947-9). In the paper I extrapolate a number of possible roots and routes of travelling exhibitions, from the time of curiosity cabinets, to the universal and trade exhibitions of the 17 and 1800s, to the contemporary phenomenon of the biennial. Somewhat different from the permanent museum displays, my focus is on the temporary travelling exhibition, which becomes what might be called a 'cultural portmanteaux': the nexus of various contemporary dynamics such as transnationality, imperial politics, representation, the market, and curatorial cultural brokerage.
The paper does not include a great amount of detail concerning my case study, as it is meant to pre-empt, or rather locate, the descriptive chapter of the thesis. In the end of the text however, I allude to the practical component of the thesis. I am considering using this particular kind of exhibition as a mode for presenting the questions raised by the case study and how those might be transported (in a temporal sense) to our contemporary moment.
David William Cohen: The End of the Everyday
The framings of the everyday, of 'everyday life', and of the ordinary, as in 'ordinary folk', the 'nameless', the 'unwashed', the 'masses' have been critical objects in the projects of anthropology and history. They call up challenging programs of representation and reconstruction. As categories of persons and behaviour, the everyday and the ordinary have serviced both social scientific and political interests. Indeed, the problem of the 'everyday' is multiplied in a sense from the developments of an essential and useable, if factitious, idea of 'the everyday' in almost every discipline of the social sciences: psychology, political science, sociology, history, performance studies, education, linguistics, anthropology, economics. In practice, the 'everyday' becomes an idea with huge implications - and stakes - as historians attempt to move away from recognitions of structures and classes as given, primordial, towards understanding social categories, processes, ways of living as active elements within the workings of modern and capitalist societies.
More so, the stakes of 'the everyday' become all the more potent as states, parliaments, historians, jurists, and others sort through questions of tradition, belonging, authenticity, customary rights, and identity as well as the relative import of responsibility of leaders, parties, social and political movements - 'society at large' - for the great tragedies and horrors of the twentieth century. What burdens of responsibility do 'ordinary folk' in their 'everyday lives' have for the destruction of minorities, for racial oppression, dispossession of the poor? How do concepts of ordinary and everyday work as exculpation? And how do these consensual categories of the ordinary and everyday complicate, or just shape, the adjudication of the responsibility for horrors? Are the fates of ideas of citizenship embodying both rights and responsibilities embedded in how these concepts of the ordinary and the everyday will be deconstructed, tested, perhaps unmade, remade as something very different? What are the ethics and politics of deconstructing, problematising, concepts of the ordinary and the everyday?
This piece is conceived of as part of a chapter entitled 'Knots' within a text-in-progress on the question of historical anthropology, anthropology and history. In this piece, in opening up discussions of these two concepts - the everyday and the ordinary - I bring discordant stories within a 'single' narrative. In a scholarly economy where attentions orient to an area of the world, or a period, or a theme, or a specific set of methods, I am trying to find some usefulness in jarring dissonance, juxtaposition, especially through the constitution of a point-of-perspective of a train viewed momentarily passing in the distance - through the frame of a window in a segment of a film.
Ann Cvetkovich: Depression is Ordinary: Public Feelings and Saidiya Hartman's Lose Your Mother
What if depression, in the Americas at least, could be traced to histories of colonialism, genocide, slavery, exclusion, and everyday segregation and isolation that haunt all of our lives, rather than to biochemical imbalances? This essay seeks alternatives to the medical model found in most depression memoirs by considering how the epistemological and methodological struggles faced by a scholar of the African diaspora confronted by the absent archive of slavery are relevant to discussions of political depression.
Combining scholarly investigation and personal memoir, Saidiya Hartman's Lose Your Mother exemplifies feminism's affective turn not only by bringing personal narrative into scholarship, but by seeking reparation for the past in the affective dynamics of cultural memory rather than in legal reform or state recognition. Stubbornly refusing to find solace in an African past before slavery, though, Hartman provides a model of emotional reparation in which feelings of loss and alienation persist. Her work suggests the relevance of political depression to both the ordinary life of racism and to what gets called clinical depression.
Alexandra Dodd: Bathed in 'Black Sunlight'
This paper began as a review of Dobrota Pucherová's The Ethics of Dissident Desire in Southern African writing and the original text is due for publication in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Postcolonial Writing. Ingrid Jonker, Bessie Head, Wopko Jensma, Dambudzo Marechera and Yvonne Vera are the radical literary presences at the heart of this watershed study. Fuelled by the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, Pucherová explores desire as a boundary-breaking energy that has the capacity to redefine both the body and the nation. Her understanding of the potential for desire to contravene racial exclusivity and open up possibilities for dialogue emerges, she writes in the introduction, from JM Coetzee's 'ethical concern to engage in a dialogue with the other while allowing him/her an ontological autonomy safe from the epistemological violence of comprehension' (p11). Against the backdrop of the recent South African context of violent xenophobia and the emergence, since the fractious elections of 2009, of a new nationalism based on 'race' or 'ethnicity', she traces the lineage of 'a literary imagination that paints a different southern Africa, one governed by friendship, desire and hospitality' (p139).
By using extended endnotes to explore some unapologetically subjective responses to my own review, I am interested in critiquing the form of the book review itself, while giving voice to a deeper, more private engagement with the book. I trace its resonance within my own life by means of a chronology of responses, which evidences a semi-public sphere of reception that is simultaneously intimate and public. By situating the act of reading within this semi-public sphere where private desires and allegiances intersect with the public and political, I affirm Pucherová's understanding of desire as a boundary-breaking energy at the dusky crossroads of eternally shifting cosmopolitan cultures.
Verne Harris and Sello Hatang: Coming to terms with the past, building the present: The Case of South Africa
This paper begins with a brief overview of colonial and apartheid oppression in South Africa and the transition to democracy between 1990 and 1994. It then offers an account of state strategies for coming to terms with the past in the era of democracy. A more detailed account follows of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (1995-2003), the country's key instrument within these strategies. In conclusion, the paper offers an evaluation of the memory work done in South Africa since 1994, addressing the question 'how successful has South Africa been at coming to terms with its past?'
Verne Harris/Shadrack: Centreing memory, privileging justice: Reflexive action research and the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
In 2004, Nelson Mandela launched the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory as a special project of the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF). In 2006 the NMF embraced the Centre as its core work and adopted a five-year transition plan for effecting the necessary institutional transformation. This paper examines research work done in support of both developing the transition plan and implementing it. It traces the NMF's journey from post-presidential office to human rights-oriented NGO, from the NMF to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, focusing in particular on four research projects central to the reimagining of the organisation's purpose and designed to inform and shape fundamentally the NMF's change management process. It describes the organisation's use of a reflexive action research approach for these projects, explores this approach both as a strategy and a methodology in the specific contexts of time and place under review, and details the approach's application at the project level.
The four projects scrutinised are: an investigation of the 'memory for justice' tradition in South Africa and its possible institutional application at the NMF; a global benchmarking study of cognate institutions; a study of dialogue as an element of Mandela's legacy in relation to the memory-dialogue nexus; and a marketing and branding survey. The paper concludes with an assessment of the organisation's implementation of reflexive action research and a reflection on the impact of this approach on the institution's change management process
Professor John Higgins: Making the Case for the Humanities in South Africa
'Don't take your eyes off the ball', was Gwede Mantashe's response to Blade Nzimande at the launch of the Charter for the Humanities initiative; 'South Africa needs more engineers'. This paper - written for the Academy of Science enquiry into the State of the Humanities in South Africa - examines the difficult dynamics confronting any attempt to make a case for the humanities heard in South Africa and globally. It examines a representative sample of different attempts to make the case against the backdrop of received ideas that make hearing that case so difficult, and in so doing examines the narrowing of higher education policy initiatives in the past thirty years or so, and points to the dangers of the emerging 'excluding consensus'. It closes with a discussion of how the specific challenges facing South Africa underline the importance for work in the NAIL disciplines (Narrative, Analysis, Interpretation, Literacies) that are marginalized in any too exclusive a focus on the STEM disciplines, as embodied in the logic of Mantashe's remark.
Anette Hoffmann: Hearing Voices in the Archive
The Colonial Archive is all but quiet. Yet hearing voices in the archives need not indicate hallucinations: here it refers to the attentive listening to some of the rustling, creaking, at times speaking, singing, or reciting voices on wax cylinders that were recorded since the invention of the phonograph in 1877. In the first instance - even if transcriptions were made from recordings - the phonograph (voice writer) does not write (graphein) voice (phone). It conserves it as sound. This paper is an attempt to fathom the potential of historical sound recordings from the Colonial Archive, along three distinct events of recording: the chanting, or 'sound-speaking' of a prisoner of war from the Eastern Cape who was recorded in 1917 in Berlin Ruhleben, a camp for British civilians in WWI; the generation of recordings of drum language and rowing songs, which were presented by a Congolese soldier of the Belgian Army in the POW camp Soltau in 1915; and the furious, articulate rap of a farm worker in South-West Africa in 1931, which enunciates his anger about the making of life-casts by a German artist. Seeking to interpret the position and content of historical recordings, as well as discerning their possibilities and potential to alter our understanding of subaltern (speaking) positions in the Archive, however preliminary, necessitates a detour: one has to reckon with the generative power of Archive, as an institution that collects and creates, prescribes modes of speaking and listening, and sometimes produces what it set out to find.
This paper is an investigation of the meaning of public art in Johannesburg, South Africa. The data was drawn from a six-week period spent with tender consortium and public art facilitating and implementing body, The Trinity Session. The paper situates the consortium within a framework of a general regional development and economic regeneration effort in the City that is spearheaded by, amongst other bodies, the Johannesburg Development Agency. The paper works to illustrate how The Trinity Session affects a process of 'slow renewal' through their integrated methods of public art making whereby the members of the community, where an artwork is to be installed are included in the processes of conceptualisation and implementation of the artworks. The term 'slow renewal' is a response to Rob Nixon's term 'slow violence' (2011) and denotes a process of measured dissolution of the sedimentary structural violence that has plagued the City from its earliest days as a mining town. Expanding upon 'slow renewal', this paper suggests that in addition, through their methods and practice, The Trinity Session is affecting the acknowledgement and legitimising of individuals in spaces where they had previously been rendered invisible. Moreover, this legitimating of the individual works toward a greater project of constituting a public that then assumes agency within the country's democracy.
Jacqueline Maingard: 'Assignment Africa': Donald Swanson's colonial imaginaries and African Jim (1949) and The Magic Garden (1951) in the history of film in South Africa
African Jim (1949) and The Magic Garden (1951), two films directed by Donald Swanson, have been accorded a unique place in South African cinema history as the first 'black-centred' film narratives. Scholarship on these films has thus far been primarily based on textual analysis and on locating them within the political and historical context of the period. In this paper, I extend this earlier work by locating these films within an historical overview of Swanson's oeuvre in both film and literature that excavates his overarching colonial imaginaries. The paper considers how the collision of different facets of Swanson's oeuvre trouble and unsettle both popular and scholarly perceptions of African Jim and The Magic Garden and their significance in the history of film in South Africa. It draws on the range of Swanson's film work and writing including his autobiography, as well as that of Erica Rutherford (1993) who produced African Jim with Swanson. The paper traces Swanson's binarist perspectives of African identities as 'savage' against the civilising mission of British colonialism and white authority and governance in Africa through different aspects of his oeuvre. In the light of this historical overview, the paper aims to re-assess African Jim and The Magic Garden, and to propose a more complex view of their place in the history of film in South Africa.
George Mahashe: Of myth and fantasy: The imaginings of a phantom - what remains of a story whose masters have long ascended
This paper's concern is to explore the imagination - my imagination as well as scholarly imagination, of Khelobedu. I also start charting and exploring ideas and looking for ways of seeing or imagining new connections between contemporary fact and myth. I look to the different threads that have contributed to the imaginings of the myth of Balobedu's rain queen. Starting with some hearsay and moving on to the canon of the myth in the form of the 1943 Realm of a Rain Queen, which is the classic Lobedu ethnographic monograph. I also look at new ideas as found in the insider perspective given by Mathole Motshekga in his 2010 book, The Mudjadji Dynasty, as well as the modern appropriation of the queen in foregrounding gender issues and heritage economies as found in Liz Mcgregor's writings.
I also look at some of the primary sources that form the basis of the myth as expressed by Rev F Reuter in the form of scientific authority in his Modjadje, A native Queen report submitted to the South African Association for the Advancement of Science in 1905/1906 and published in 1907. BH Dicke in his 1936 historical novel, The bush speaks, becomes the key source of the myth as it sets both a wider historical account, context and dishes some gossip on the actors that are part of the original formation of the myth. I close with a brief look at the opening scene of GH Franz's Sotho play Modjadji that gives a visually rich account of Mudjadji's rise. More than that, I simply grasp at straws as my imagination makes connections between the story and the facts, and I try to link some of them to current debates. I use the metaphor of a darkroom or camera obscura to imagine the space that the storyteller uses to visualize the story as he tells it.
Grant McNulty: 'We are a family of history here...'
This paper deals with the contemporary production and preservation of a kholwa heritage, generally associated with mission-educated Zulus in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It traces the work of Desmond Makhanya who has written the history of the Adams Mission Station and College, a kholwa centre of education, and its many well-known alumni. Desmond's work has significance as part of the record of intellectual history of kholwa in twentieth-century Natal but more especially, for the Makhanya of Umbumbulu, and in particular, hisancestors, the Makhubalos and Nembulas.
In the paper, I argue that in writing the institutional history of the college and mission station, Desmond is in fact making a claim on modernity and to a place in history for his family. The contemporary mobilisation of the college's history is linked to its potential for socio-economic development, also recognised by the KZN Office of the Premier, which sees the college, and other mission stations in the region, as viable religio-heritage tourist attractions. Through research into the role and impact of missionaries in Natal, the Premier's Heritage Unit also aims to enter into the record a more diverse, non-singularly Zulu, and not merely traditionalist, history of the region. This serves a political agenda as the profile of the ANC government in contemporary KwaZulu-Natal is to be simultaneously modernist and engaged with tradition.
Glen Ncube: 'Being looked at by a doctor, camera, or diagnostic machine': Debating the meanings of patient photographs from colonial Fort Victoria
The patient photograph in the western world has endured a long-standing debate around its assumptions, goals and methods. Its justification by the medical fraternity on the basis of the fact that it possesses vital illustrative and educational qualities has been vigorously shot down by Foucaultdian scholars who have thought about it in terms of power relationships between powerful doctors and dominated patients. In the colonial African setting, however, the patient photograph has not enjoyed extensive analysis and has therefore lived in the shadow of the general debates about imperial or ethnographic photography. Working from the belief that colonial patient photographs constitute a unique archival genre that deserves serious scholarly attention, the aim of this paper is to use a sample of patient photographs from colonial Fort Victoria, south-eastern Zimbabwe, to initiate debate around this important subject.
The paper suggests that the general avoidance of patient photographs might be due to the disturbing visual imagery and the ethical concerns they are associated with, much more than other forms of photography. It further warns that in seeking to assess the nature of the colonial patient photograph there is a very high risk of rehearsing the aging debate about knowledge and power with its focus on broader institutional and ideological concerns that overlook individual memory and the many messages and potential uses for such archives today. Ultimately, the paper suggests that in far-flung colonial outposts such as Fort Victoria, the patient photograph tells as many stories as it mutes. A degree of uncertainty must therefore be allowed to permeate our interpretations.
Njabulo Ndebele: Behind sweaty windows: An essay on boxing in the Eastern Cape - Chapter 2: The Splendour of Nkosana 'Happy Box' Mgxaji
In just over three decades, the Eastern Cape has produced more than 20 world champions and over fifty national champions in boxing. It is a remarkable achievement with Mdantsane and Duncan Village just outside of East London as its epicentre. The overall approach of the book is to reflect what could have led to this success. Three boxers representing three generations of boxers were selected for interviewing. The interviews are at the heart of the reflection. Through the interviews the books attempts to identify and track patterns of behaviour among the boxers and the society they live in that appear to play a significant role in the development of the sport in a relatively confined area of South Africa. Emerging is a suggestion that strong local factors are identifiable that may not be easy to reproduce elsewhere, and which if better understood can sustain the sport significantly into the future. But there would need to be some strong adaptations. The first part of the title plays on the book's epigraph: 'then we will train ourselves by forming that circle - everything and the sweating, the walls, the windows will sweat, and if you are outside you can't see anything'.
This chapter, part of five, introduces the boxer acclaimed to be responsible more than most for the phenomenal growth of boxing the Eastern Cape, the legendary Nkosana 'Happy Boy' Mgxaji, who dominated the South African Super Featherweight Division spectacularly for ten years. Within the turbulent politics of repression and resistance in the Eastern Cape, he seems to have carved out an autonomous space of self-actualization through boxing. His successes and failures may carry urgent messages for the millions of South Africa's citizens for whom the new democratic dispensation has yet to see their lives change significantly for the better.
Andrew Putter: A biographical sketch of Duggan‐Cronin
As a first‐year Fine Art Masters candidate, I am currently in the middle of making new photographic work which responds to Duggan‐Cronin's oeuvre. Duggan‐Cronin was a Kimberley‐based photographer who worked between 1919 and 1939 to record 'the Bantu tribes of South Africa.' In this paper, I present a short biographical sketch of Duggan‐Cronin. I have looked at the handful of the most authoritative biographical writings on Duggan‐Cronin, and have put together a survey of these writings.
Christoph Rippe: Common Ancestors? Hagioscopes, Photographic Representation and Presence in a South African Mission Encounter
The contact situation between Christian missionaries and their subjects during the late 19th and early 20th century has often been framed as the 'mission encounter'. An important conceptual part of this phenomenon is the photographic occasion, the social interaction while taking photographs for the purpose of propaganda: in itself a multilayered social phenomenon with its many realities, performances and intentions for representation.
As much as during the original production, photographic occasions of a different kind can take place when current researchers attempt to reintroduce archival photographic images into life worlds that evolved from those supposedly depicted in the photograph. Attempts labelled as 'visual repatriation' - or even 'virtual repatriation' - have increased over the last ten years, in order to produce more complex knowledge, and to empower communities. Often counter to initial intentions, such projects can entail complex social consequences between involved communities.
I attempt to analyse a particular case of a missionary encounter at the Catholic Mission Mariannhill in South Africa. An initial attempt of repatriating 'ethnographic' photographs from the 1890s was partially led ad absurdum, as some images had already made the local transition to become family photographs a long time ago. Therefore, I introduce the term 'reconnection' to discuss the intervention of the researcher with photographic histories of local communities, missionaries, as well as European institutions. In this context photographs may serve as contact zones for earlier disrupted histories between several of the source communities.
As missionaries intentionally inscribed their own presence in the image, even sometimes preferred to the one of their subjects - the missionary other, it is necessary to discuss the photographic presence of the missionary self at the same time. Hagiographic discourses on emanating community leaders, both of missionaries, as well as African communities evolved, and are partially entangled in co-producing local identities. In the latter case the material presence of relics, serves a comparison in order to frame them alike to photographs as human remains.
Hedley Twidle: Don't say 'etc.':Lost and found in the work of Ivan Vladislavić
This piece attempts an essayistic, exploratory and (I hope) creative engagement with the work of Ivan Vladislavić, paying close attention to The Loss Library (2011) while also revisiting the early stories republished in 2010 as Flashback Hotel. Drawing on a recent collection of critical responses to his writing, Marginal Spaces (ed. Gaylard, 2011), my approach also touches on lesser known, occasional pieces in seeking to trace how Vladislavic's investment in an experimental, anti-realist poetics (the French 'workshop for potential literature' OuLiPo, for example) underlies the documentary texture of even his ostensibly non-fictional texts. Paying attention to the idiosyncratic and complex imaginative architectures that generate his prose, my reading explores how these avowedly writerly works remain open to a contemporary African metropolis, even while enamoured of anachronisms, second-hand bookshops and outdated libraries.
Reflecting on my experience of teaching Portrait with Keys (2006) to undergraduates in South Africa, I hope to explore how Vladislavić's works manage to be both stringent and accommodating: dictionary-obsessed and abstrusely postmodern but also (in my experience) uniquely inclusive and 'open'. I suggest that the supple and unpredictable response of the prose to a commerce-saturated society creates an address that is critical without being censorious. Taken as a whole, Vladislavić's oeuvre offers a deep thinking-through of what it means to 'provincialise' English, and to abandon prescriptive grammars for descriptive ones. The result is a distinctive oscillation between the constrained and the serendipitous, the lost and the found.
Vibeke Viestad: The dress of some Gordonia Bushmen, as collected and photographed by Dorothea Bleek in the Northern Cape, 1911
The following paper will be submitted as part of my PhD thesis with the working title, 'Nearly Naked'? The dress of colonial San hunter-gatherers as represented in the Louis Fourie and Dorothea Bleek collections. With a point of departure in the material culture of the two collections the aim of the thesis is to examine; the representation of San dress within the two collections themselves, in comparison to each other, as well as what basis these collections give for further knowledge production about this part of San culture in colonial Southern Africa. The aim of this paper is to give a presentation of one part of the Dorothea Bleek collection, namely the artifacts and some of the photographs deriving from her 1911 field trip to the Northern Cape. The description of the artifacts seen in relation to the photographic record will exemplify that reading the different categories of source material as a whole is essential to avoid errors and misunderstandings that might give an erroneous basis for further scientific research. In the concluding sections I will suggest a reclassification of the artifacts in the Iziko South African Museum presently associated to the //ƞ!ke Bushmen of Gordonia, as I will argue that these artifacts were in fact collected among the /auni Bushmen of Kyky, further north in the Northern Cape.
John Wright & Simon Hall: Tuning up for OBO: 'Southern Africa to 1850'
In this paper we present a selected and annotated bibliography, entitled 'Southern Africa to 1850', which we completed in January this year for Oxford University Press's series, Oxford Bibliographies Online (OBO). In the introduction to the paper we briefly describe how we came to be involved in the project of preparing the bibliography, outline the broad guidelines set out by OUP, and discuss the guiding principles which we adopted in developing categories of entries and in making selections from a large literature. The bulk of the paper is taken up by the bibliography itself. Like the other bibliographies in the OBO series, it is envisaged as on ongoing project, with authors encouraged to make regular updates and emendments. We are presenting it to the APC workshop in order to elicit critical comment that we can take into account in preparing new versions of it. The completed bibliography has been formally accepted by OUP for publication but is not yet in the public domain.