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Associate Researchers

Mbongiseni Buthelezi

I joined the Archive & Public Culture research initiative as senior researcher in October 2014. Before that I was senior researcher in the Rural Women’s Action Research Programme in the Centre for Law and Society, UCT, preceded by a stint as a lecturer in English, also at UCT.

My previous work was concerned with understanding the ways in which people negotiate identity in transforming societies. I am interested in what evidence is mobilised and how it is mobilised in the context of the assertion of identity claims, whether in the context of chieftainship disputes, claiming rights to land, or disputing claims and advancing counterclaims. I have written on the mobilisation of heritage discourse in countering official versions of heritage, on the use of oral poetic forms in asserting pre-colonial identities, and on the archive.

My interest is in understanding how contemporary appeals to ‘tradition’ work and in the ways the many materials labelled as ‘tradition’ are able to speak to the past – especially to the yet neglected eras of the past before the advent of European colonialism. I completed a PhD in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and an MA in English at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.