APC MARCH 2018 WORKSHOP: COLLATED ABSTRACTS
Erica de Greef: Sartorial Disruption An investigation of the history and disposition of South African dress/fashion collections and associated museum practices, as a means to re-imagine and re-frame the sartorial in the museum
As my thesis reaches completion, I present here three components: namely the thesis introduction, four summaries of findings that relate to the trouser-led readings and the concluding chapter, which introduces six key observations that contribute towards a series of conclusions.
Jo-Anne Duggan: The story must be told. The story needed to be told: Jenny Hobbs, ‘Thoughts in a Makeshift Mortuary’, 1985, and other visual traces
In this paper, I track the visual traces of the 1982 Raid on Maseru as they are brought into view by people required by the nature of their work, or compelled by memory, to write about the news photographs and film footage or their first-hand experiences of the scenes depicted in them. Simply put I hope to build the argument that events leave visual traces. These may take the form of written descriptions, photographs of video footage, or memories which has been inscribed on an external surface. I want to understand how, when and why the visual traces emerge from the archive or are rendered invisible.
Henry Fagan: Interlocutors and Evidence: Reconstituting the Economic of the Zulu kingdom
This paper attempts to follow the examples set by John Wright and Carolyn Hamilton in their analyses of the circumstances and motivations surrounding James Stuart in the recording of his ‘Idea’. This paper will focus specifically on two of Stuart’s most prolific interlocutors1, Ndukwana kaMbengwana and Socwatsha kaPhaphu. While the contribution and context of each as already been thoroughly discussed by Wright, my analysis will consider their evidence within a more specific context. It is the aim of this paper to evaluate how useful these two interlocutors prove with respect to supplying reliable information relating to the economic functioning of the Zulu kingdom. Economic functioning is what I have described as the process whereby productive forces are enabled, reproduced, and performed. The era of Shaka’s and Dingane’s respective reins is the period in focus.
Katie Garrun: The Five Hundred Year Archive research project
The Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA) research project focuses on the conceptual as well as technological task of re-curating objects representative of cultural history. The parameters of the study concentrate on a particular region and time period, these being the province known now as KwaZulu-Natal and southern Swaziland, and the time before colonialism. The limited scope was determined due to of the under researched nature of the area and time and the project’s aim of maximum complexity.
The FHYA is undertaking the task of convening a selection of these historical objects by using specific technological interventions that hope not only to digitally link dispersed objects but also to in some ways disentangle these objects from their legacy of colonial classification. The project’s intention is to create a functional exemplar archive and promote enquiry into the long past.
This paper serves as the foundation for the third chapter of my larger MPhil thesis and aims to describe the FHYA in depth. It sets out to tell the story of the Five Hundred Year Archive from its beginning phases in 2012 and its progress up until this point in 2018.
Carolyn Hamilton: Five Hundred Year Archive Draft Website Introductory Materials
On behalf of the FHYA I present draft text for two places on the FHYA exemplar. The text in each case serves to frame the materials presented on the FHYA and to explain our interventions. The first is for the landing page. It fills in a block that is nominally assigned the status of “Welcome”. The second is for the live-link “button” “About the FHYA” which is visible on every page. The text is updatable and will be updated as the status of the exemplar shifts over the rest of the year.
Rachel King: 'Were they half civilized?' Knowledge, reminiscence, and archaeological thinking in early (1866-1913) ethnologies of Lesotho
This paper draws on an epistolary relationship between two early ethnologists of Lesotho (D.F. Ellenberger and J.M. Orpen) to explore a habit of researching and writing about the past that I refer to as 'thinking archaeologically'. That is, using the material world as a proving ground for hypotheses about human society across long periods of time. Through their decade-long correspondence as they assembled their respective ethnological works, Ellenberger and Orpen repeatedly turned to traces of abandoned homesteads on the Highveld, toponyms, and geographic features to provide 'factual' anchors for oral histories that they believed were biased or incomplete. Their mode of 'thinking archaeologically' thus gave traces of the past a particular authoritative weight often at the expense of their interlocutors, and often arriving at conclusions that modern archaeology has proven erroneous.
In examining how these intellectual practices unfolded, I consider how scholars have imagined archaeology and landscape as evidentiary sources, and what the consequences of this have been for southern African pre-colonial studies. I submit that 'thinking archaeologically' in the early days of anthropology has left a legacy of presuming too much about what settled life physically looked like in the southern African interior, and assuming that population movement was always a symptom of distress rather than a political choice. In doing so, I hope to claim a space for a particular sort of archaeological approach to words and things in describing how knowledge in and about southern Africa's past was produced.
Nessa Leibhammer: Light: Unpacking Metaphors of Representation
Light in pictorial representation plays an important, but little recognised, role in the visual lexicon of Western imaging and imagining. While positioning it in a broad overview of images, this chapter will look, in particular, at how it contributes to the transmission of subliminal messages about subject peoples in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and, more recently, how it is used as a ‘decolonising impulse’ in contemporary South African art. My original interest in light began when I studied the way archaeologists communicate knowledge through pictographic representation. This explains why the first examples in this chapter are archaeological ones.
Gerald Machona: My Story of Lobola
This presentation is an extract from the first chapter of my thesis, which examines the intricacies of participating in lobola across national and ethnic boundaries that separate Zimbabwe and South Africa. My study attempts to understand the assumptions about gender, ethnic and national identities that are embedded in lobola processes today; and if the ‘tradition’ is continuously re-inventing itself, how this change is being negotiated. This first chapter aims to contextualise my experience of this rite of passage, through a narrative story-telling approach. By introducing the reader to the themes, events and complex relations which governed the lobola proceedings, I intend to establish a foundation for deeper analysis and critical reflections in the chapters to follow.
Ayanda Mahlaba: Gogo’s Narratives
Every story has a protagonist who is central in how every event unfolds. In the case of this research, this protagonist is my grandmother, since I would not have decided to dedicate time in understanding the histories of my people and my ‘community’ had it not been for the riveting stories she would narrate to me when I was growing up and in later years when I matured into a young adult who was introduced to the rich world of Black women’s feminist imaginations as enabled by the world of the academy. Therefore, it is imperative that before I go on to focus on the other two main women interlocutors, I focus on her first. This early chapter of my MA thesis is concerned with two things.
First, I partake in doing the memory work of exploring the stories Gogo told me before (when I was a child and prior to my decision to undertake this research).
Second, I then move on to piecing together the stories that came out after when I devoted time to make sense of what I consider to be narratives intricately tied to my being, that of my forebears, their roots, the multiple places and positions they occupied in their lifetimes. This chapter is descriptive in nature, and fluidly – albeit confusing at times – moves in time and space as I have made the political choice of troubling the notion of ‘linearity’ since the conversations that I recall from my childhood were structured in non-linear forms. It will be clear from this chapter that there are no stark differences between the before and after narratives since Gogo has been consistent in how she narrates her life story and the various actors, places and forces that have characterised it. Where differences exist, I will highlight them accordingly.
Thokozani Mhlambi: Broadcasting Development in SA
This paper tracks the development of the SABC from its founding moments in 1936 to the transitional moment of 1993-1996, when it was now required to define a vision for a plural society. The SABC was the first institution to undergo racial and cultural transformation towards the new democratic dispensation. The bulk of the material is on the early years of broadcasting (1940s), as it is the period that it less known in the mind of the public. In the founding moment the SABC tried to unify the disparate interests of white Afrikaans and English populations. In the transitional moment, the SABC attempted to integrate the interests of all its citizens. In their unifying of interest, the founding moment and the transitional moment are similar. The transitional moment became so crucial to how we know broadcasting and the SABC today. The account is not chronological; it inserts my own personal memories of radio in order to reflect on this archive of broadcasting history.
Jacqueline Maingard: Black film audiences in South Africa, 1920s to 1960s
I had originally planned that in this workshop (March 2018), I would present the structure and key arguments of my monograph that draws together my research into black cinema audiences in South Africa, 1920s to 1960s. My aim was to further refine the shape of the book on this period in South Africa’s film history and the ‘construction’ of black audiences. The critical feedback I received in the November 2017 workshop (based on draft notes towards the Introduction), helped focus the work on black identities and histories as the central through-line. This has been fundamentally significant to the shape and focus of the monograph. In the light of this I have seen the forthcoming March 2018 workshop as especially helpful in presenting the full reach of the monograph, based on rough drafts of chapters I have recently written. I had hoped that I would elaborate the content and arguments of each chapter, thereby explicating the focus of the monograph as a whole.
But this was not to be, and I am now instead presenting for the workshop a recently written contribution for an edited volume on Mapping Movie Magazines [Biltereyst, D. and Van de Vijver, L (eds)], under contract with Palgrave Macmillan, which is under review as part of the aforementioned volume. I will also incorporate some of the material and the research that informs it into one of the chapters of my book. The chapter in my book will focus on film criticism as it relates to African / black audiences in the period mainly from the 1920s to the 1950s. Presently the chapter is primarily on Zonk! African People’s Pictorial in its early years of 1949 to about 1951. I would like to expand the material on Drum in the 1950s. And I would like to contextualise this chapter in terms of film criticism – limited as it was, but nevertheless significant – that includes some of the writing of Sol Plaatje, H.I.E. Dhlomo, Alex la Guma and possibly others, and that appears in the wider African / black press particularly from 1915 onwards. This will link very well with the chapter in the book on Sol Plaatje and his touring cinema exhibition of the early 1920s (draft presented at APC workshop April 2017).
Litheko Modisane: The media and the Black Pimpernel
The paper examines the media reports and interviews on Mandela in the period of his underground years- May 1961 to August 1962. In the paper I show that the production and circulation of the ‘Mandela myth’ can be traced to this period and not the late 70s’ as is often claimed. I show the ways in which this mediation of Mandela, uneven though it was, and his relative absence from public life have mutually reinforced the power and reach of his persona in the public imagination precisely because he was not always actually publically present, but circulated through mediated channels. The paper suggests that absence or invisibility of public figures ought not be simply viewed as a disabling state but as a powerful resource in the making and sometimes consecration of public figures.
Abigail Joy Moffett: Global commodities, local interactions: Stringing together cowrie shells in the southern African past
Cowrie shells, the common name for the species Cypraea moneteria moneta and Cypraea moneteria annulus, have been collected, modified, traded and consumed globally for over 10 000 years. Cowrie shells appear in the southern African archaeological record from the 7th century AD, and were used by southern African communities in a variety of ways up to the present. Their appearance in the first millennium AD, in close correlation with other items traded through Indian Ocean exchange systems, has afforded them the common designation of ‘trade’ or ‘prestige’ good. This designation implies a host of assumptions related to the value of cowries. Given the connection between cowries and the Indian Ocean exchange system, as well as their long duration of use by southern African communities, it is surprising that very little research has attempted to interrogate the valuation of cowries in southern African contexts through time. This review of the distribution and depositional contexts of cowries from a variety of archaeological and historical contexts from the Early Iron Age (CE 200-1000) until the present reveals some of the ways southern African communities incorporated cowries into clothing, adornment, ritual and daily practice.
Exploring the continuity and change in cowrie use over time facilitates a discussion around the relationship between the properties of the shell, the inter-artifactual domain in which they interacted and the symbolic universe of their users in the creation and negotiation of their value. While the smooth white exterior of the cowrie, with its vulva shaped orifice, likely facilitated a symbolic link to fertility and procreation, the shell nevertheless interacted with and was shaped by a symbolic universe conditioned by its users that was contingent to contextual historical realities. The continuity and change in the valuation of cowries through time and in space cautions for a continued awareness of the negotiated, transient manifestations of value global commodities might have had in local contexts.
Lebogang Mokwena: Along the Museological Grain: An Exploration into the (Geo)Political Undercurrents in a South African Textile Exhibition
The exclusion of women in museums – whether art, ethnological, or historical – has received critical appraisal by feminist scholars, particularly in the global north, with fewer examples from the global south. It is for this reason that the Isishweshwe Story: Material Women? at the Textile Gallery in the Slave Lodge, Iziko Museums is so fascinating, not least given the rarity of women-centred exhibitions. Through an assessment of the exhibition's representation of Southern African countries, in which the textile has been used, this paper, counter-intuitively foregrounds how the Isishweshwe Story exhibition, ostensibly concerned with the history of the isishweshwe textile in Southern Africa and its use by various groups of women, conceals even as it operates within the logics of a geo-politically ambitious – and not always altruistic – post-apartheid state. Through a critical assessment of the geo-political undertones in the exhibition, this paper invigorates the emerging literature on the sociology of heritage and the museum by shifting the attention away from the usual emphasis, in museum studies, on the internal politics of nation (re)imagining and nation-building. Instead, it recasts the debate to emphasise the outward-orientations of the nation-state and how these can be discerned or fostered on the museum platform when it is deployed as a space of cultural diplomacy.
Susana Molins-Lliteras: The making of a local historian in Timbuktu? Maḥmūd Ka’ti, historical notes, marginalia and the Fondo Kati
Maḥmūd Ka’ti’s name is popularly known as one of the foremost historians of the Western Sudan, author of one of the famed historical chronicles, the Tārīkh al-fattāsh (TF). This view is now discredited in specialist circles, with Nehemia Levtzion’s seminal 1971 article demonstrating that Ibn al-Mukhtār was the author of the 17th c. chronicle, and recent research by Mauro Nobili and Shahid Mathee showing that the 1913 edited version and translation of the chronicle is composed of two distinct textual entities, the chronicle by Ibn al-Mukhtār and a 19th c. pseudo-epigraphic work written by Nūḥ b. al-Ṭāhir, and apocryphally ascribed to Maḥmūd Ka‘ti.1 Despite this evidence however, Maḥmūd Ka’ti continues to be regarded as a local historian, and his name continues to be associated with the chronicle, substantiated by the recent translation of the TF into English by non-specialists, to give just one example.
Even in specialist circles, one particularly striking notion that endures is the idea of Maḥmūd Ka’ti as a writer of historical notes, which contributed to his descendant authoring the TF.
This paper tackles this conception of the ‘historical note’ in relation to the purported marginalia of Maḥmūd Ka’ti found in the Fondo Kati’s manuscripts. This library, named after our personage, claims to be the collection of manuscripts begun by Maḥmūd Ka‘ti and his Andalusí father, and augmented and preserved by their descendants up to the present.
The paper analyses some of Maḥmūd Ka‘ti’s marginalia in this collection and determines its central aims: firstly, to establish the chronology of his life, with the particular purpose of placing him in the entourage of Askiya Muḥammad. Secondly, to affirm Maḥmūd Ka’ti’s scholarly credentials and finally and most crucially, to establish him as a writer of historical notes, which would later be used by others in the family to write the TF. The paper shows the usefulness of the idea of the ‘historical note,’ arguing that even in the face of scant evidence, it continues to contribute to the making of Maḥmūd Ka‘ti as “the first historian of the Sudan,” as he is sometimes called.
1 Nehemia Levtzion, “A Seventeenth-Century Chronicle by Ibn al-Mukhtā r: A Critical Study of Ta’rī kh alfattā sh,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 34–3 (1971): 571–593; Mauro Nobili and Mohamed Shahid Mathee, “Towards a New Study of the So-Called Tā rī kh al-fattā sh,” History in Africa 42 (2015): 37-73.
2 Christopher Wise and Hala Abu Taleb (trans.), Ta’rīkh al fattāsh: The Timbuktu Chronicles, 1493– 1599 (Trenton NJ: Africa World Press, 2011).
Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja: PhD proposal: Between Oudano Archives and a collection of new works of Resistance Culture
This research looks at approaches of finding inspiration through archives of Oudano (performance) in the making of resistance culture in Namibia today, particularly in Katutura township. The project identifies bodies, places as well as classical archives as fundamental sites of memory and production of resistance culture in Namibia today. It situates protest performance as a disorganized, unsustainable, displaced and fragmented art form in Namibia’s post-Apartheid cultural production. This research project will thus be interested in developing a new interdisciplinary collection of artwork that aim to organise, curate, narrate, perform, write and teach resistance culture for Namibia today. The research is located in the performing bodies as well as the found objects and spaces as both methods and subjects of the study. It is informed by an intersecting theoretical framework of performance, decolonial and memory studies. As a performance as research project, this art collection will produce cutting-edge theatre, music, film, texts and visual arts works that will contribute to the discourse and development resistance culture in Namibia.
Camalita Naicker: Chapter for PhD Thesis: The Afterlives of Marikana in Popular Politics in South Africa
The chapter begins with a description of the Marikana settlement, its inception and events that has won it a reputation of violence and resistance in the media over its last almost four years of existence. When the land was occupied over the period of a year and a half from April 2013 to August 2014, the response to news articles reporting on Marikana, was that poor squatters had come from the Eastern Cape to occupy the land, including Western Cape Premier Helen Zille who is infamous for calling people who move from the Eastern to the Western part of the Cape ‘refugees.’ Residents of Marikana 2, where this research is situated have been part of ongoing clashes with police, neighbouring communities and between themselves. The court case that resulted from these periodic evictions spanned a period of four years with a landmark judgement handed in August, 2017 over the settlement collectively called Marikana which in the last four years had grown from a small group of shelters to span a ‘medium-sized town’ of approximately 60 000 residents. In August 2017, Western Cape High Court Judge Fortuin ordered the City of Cape Town to enter into negotiation with the owners of the land to buy the property, or failing which to expropriate it as provided for in the constitution.
This chapter attempts to do three sets of things, the first is to map the processes that led to creation of the settlement that today comprises Marikana 1 (or Old Marikana), Marikana 2 (or new Marikana) and the Rolihlahla settlements which in the court papers and the media are collectively referred to as the Marikana Informal Settlement. Secondly, and relatedly the chapter shows how the court cases were able to define and hone in on Marikana purely through legal and liberal parameters that was premised on the balancing on different claims to rights and protections by the state under the constitution, I will argue that this does little to expose the internal dynamics at play in Marikana, or to provide insights into contesting political practices, the legal and institutional and the popular and non-institutionalised realm of the political and how these two work together and sometimes contradict each other. Lastly, the chapter argues that far from the current attempts to view Marikana as another in a long line of land occupations and service delivery protests, there is a far longer and deeper history that might, as High Court Judge Gambler stated in his judgement in March 2014, give residents of this area a sense of ‘déjà vu.’ Whilst the judge was referring to a series of raids conducted by the City of Cape Town (CoCT) which were “reminiscent of the well documented operations conducted by the apartheid government in the 1980s in areas such as Crossroads and KTC. Units of heavily armed men clad in bullet-proof gear and protective helmets went on to private property and systematically demolished informal structures,” I show that there are there are far more sediments of Crossroads in the realm of the political that is ignored within the liberal framing of this space and the short hand references to urban conflict. Particularly it argues that there are, in addition to new dynamics and processes, historical continuities with the women’s organising committees so particular to Crossroads history of resistance and also the use of rural experience and political practices to politically organise within the settlement reminiscent of older committees during the 1970s and 1980s. These historical connections are multiple and inform the overall insights of the thesis.
Rehana Odendaal: Academic Freedom & Publicness at Wits
These two chapters are currently imagined as Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 of my MA Thesis, titled The Interactive University: A history of publicness at the University of the Witwatersrand 1922-2015. The chapters have emerged out of the single paper presented at our November workshop in order to enable a clearer chronological and thematic reading of the history of Academic Freedom and its relationship to Publicness at Wits University. Chapter 7: Wits and contestations around Academic Freedom in the 1950s provides an overview of how the concept of Academic Freedom developed at the University in relation to the emergence of the Extension of University Education Act 49 of 1957. It uses four major moments of the University’s protest against the Act to explore how the mechanisms through which Wits’s publicity was performed. Chapter 8: Continuing the Conversation on Academic Freedom looks at the afterlife of the events discussed in Chapter 7, with the intention of highlighting how the narrative of Academic Freedom and “the open universities” continued to have a significant impact on the public imagination of both Wits as an institution and the concept of Academic Freedom in the 1960s and 1970s.
Himal Ramji: Popularising the precolonial: some thoughts towards a paper
My short piece for the APC workshop will consist of some thoughts towards a publishable article based on the research and findings of my MA thesis, Producing the Precolonial: Professional and Popular Lives of Mapungubwe, 1937-2017.
The thesis comprised three parts: first, the production of archaeological knowledge and discourses about Mapungubwe from the 1930s until the 2000s; second, the introduction of Mapungubwe into the national public-school curriculum; and third, the move towards the popularisation of Mapungubwe beyond the scope of academic discipline and institutionalised education, in novels, documentaries and the arts (particularly sculpture).
There were several findings from the research, some revolving around the way that history, and most particularly how history of times before European colonisation, has been used over time towards political (or ideological) ends. During apartheid times, Mapungubwe reproduced old myths of a savage yet golden and wondrously explorable, discoverable Africa. In post-apartheid times, Mapungubwe has been used in the reproduction of an image of a southern Africa that is replete with kings, elite spatial politics, a general (pre)capitalist economy, both internally and externally, and was involved in world trade – it is globalist, pre-capitalist, golden, on a trajectory towards an industrialised society. In short, Mapungubwe is set up, in contemporary times, as an almost natural precursor to contemporary conditions.
But these are all very particular findings. In the case of the paper for potential publication, I want to look at the more general takings from my research. I want to consider how we ‘treat’ history, both as professional discipline and public discourse. I want to consider the cleavage between professional knowledge-making and popular knowledge-making, and how this has previously inhibited much research into the reimagination of the past before colonisation, and, further, how my research – the method employed in my thesis – shows that there is critical need for analytic models within the social sciences which allow us to consider more seriously, and in a less off-handish manner, the knowledge and histories produced in popular fields – in film, music, and novel forms. And then, beyond this, how can we bring together, within a single study, the knowledge produced in the professional and the knowledge produced in the popular.
Taken a step further, I want the short piece for the workshop to allow some room for the plotting of my PhD thesis, which will hopefully take the work of my masters a step further. For this, I want to consider the possibility for presented fragmented moments of history, rather than attempting to produce a narrative of an event that aims to fit a larger grand narrative or truth discourse. In a sense, I want to make an attempt to produce public, popular history in a different way – to translate what has been locked in technical, disciplinary ‘jargon’ (for lack of a better word), into language that is accessible, educational, but also geared towards popular consumption.
I am thinking here about a Mapungubwe in comics (the idea here I base on Luke Molver’s 2018 publication, Shaka Rising), and Mapungubwe in film (a step beyond Mandla Dube’s
2017 documentary, Echoes of the Valley, and beyond the written form of Zakes Mda’s 2013 novel, The Sculptors of Mapungubwe). But these are only ideas, in their most formative stage. For the most part, I wish to consider – with the help of the APC cohort – what of my thesis I can convert into a 20-or-so page publishable article.
Tracey Randle: Curating the Museum Van De Caab Display
This forms a fourth draft chapter for my thesis. The initial brief to the work scope to the Solms-Delta project centred on conducting research into the history of the farm and surrounding region, including the pre-colonial, archaeological and social history. This task was never divorced from the main outcome of the project: that this research be used for “the purpose of establishing a museum…the subject of which will be the social history of the wine history in South Africa, using the estate as a “case study””. Despite its somewhat academic focus and methodology, the project always had as a goal and end product a visual display, rather than a publication or book. It will be argued, however, that certain modalities of a book, would come to shape the display. Archival, archaeological and academic modes of representation found their ways into the display in numerous ways. The Museum van de Caab additionally embodies a very specific locus, as a site museum on a Cape wine farm that would additionally come to shape the form and function of the exhibition.
Emma Sandon: Book proposal: Films with a Mission
I am presenting my book proposal for an edited collection of essays, Films with a Mission. Many English-speaking churches, Protestant and Catholic, adopted film in the first half of the twentieth century to support and spread their missionary activities across Africa, East Asia, South Asia, South East Asia and Australasia. The book will bring together 12 key contributions on films, film collections and film activities by different missionary societies. The essays, written by contemporary film scholars and historians, will outline some of the key issues and questions in historically assessing some of the missionary collections found in film archives. The book will encompass particular films as well as drawing on comparative approaches to interpreting the collections. It will examine how denominations invested in the new medium of film to promote conversion, recruitment and to raise funds for their missions, as well as to compete with other Christian churches, including foreign missions from Europe. The volume will also look at the growth of interdenominational collaborations, particularly by Protestant churches, in film production and cinema exhibition to promote the spread of Christianity, primarily through the International Missionary Council (IMC). The book will thus assess the significance of the take up of the new mass media technology of film by a range of Christian missionary societies as an evangelical strategy in the modern period.
Leslie Witz: Remaking the chameleon: a history of history in South African museums
In this paper, which is a draft of the second chapter of my book tentatively titled Museumania, I want to present a possible trajectory of the ways that the category of history was employed in museum policy and practice in South Africa from the nineteenth century. My intention in doing this is to begin thinking through different possibilities that were available for the institution named and claimed as a museum in post-apartheid South Africa. One of these, which I argue became the basis of official policy, claims to revise history by remaining bound to a past of empirically verifiable facts that have to be amended, added to, deleted and reinterpreted, in order to reconstruct new and different pasts. This I argue is the way that museums have shifted to the category of heritage. Another, which is less prominent, seeks to scrutinize and destabilize the categories of knowledge formation and then to make these apparent. This approach attempts to constantly question the disciplinary foundations of history and museological practice. These are of course neither all the variations of history in museums in post-apartheid South Africa, nor is it possible to mark a single museum as typical of either (though there are some very close approximations). Outlining these possibilities enables one to think through a history of history in museums, the different ways histories are re-imagined in museums and importantly the varieties of practices that are set in place, disbanded and re-conceptualised.
John Wright: Tiptoeing through the Ages: a historian ventures in search of archaeologists’ takes on ‘social relations’
This paper is a draft – incomplete and tentative – of part of the first section of chapter 5 of a book that I am writing with Carolyn Hamilton titled Making Identities in KwaZulu-Natal: Politics and History in South Africa, 1750-1850. Chapter 1 takes the form of a conceptual introduction, chapters 2 and 3 make a critical examination of the historiography (respectively before and after 1960), and chapter 4 makes a critical examination of the major sources of evidence. Chapter 5 (which I am authoring in the first instance) aims to set the scene for the four narrative-based chapters that follow. We still have to find an (imaginative) title for it: its theme is ‘Politics and the making of identities in KwaZulu-Natal before 1750’. In the first section my primary concern is with archaeological evidence and the ways in which it has been interpreted. The broad historiographical background will have been covered in chapter 3: in chapter 5 I focus specifically on three linked questions.
When did archaeologists in southern Africa generally, and in KwaZulu-Natal in particular, start thinking systematically about what they have called ‘social relations’ as distinct from technologies, environmental change, and patterns of subsistence and settlement? How far back in time have they found material remains that they interpret as evidence for social relations? And what have they actually said from this perspective?
In a second section of the chapter, I intend to examine how far the evidence from archaeology meshes with the evidence that can be gleaned from documentary sources (mainly accounts written by or about the survivors of shipwrecks on the coast of south-eastern Africa in the period 1550-1750) that touch on the nature of political organization in KwaZulu-Natal in this period. In a third section I will assess what evidence can be found on the nature of politics and of identity-making in this period through critical readings of the six volumes of the James Stuart Archive (1976-2013), Magema Fuze’s The Black People and Whence they Came (1979 ), and Alfred Bryant’s Olden Times in Zululand and Natal (1929).