APC First Semester 2019

21 Jun 2019 - 11:00
Caption: Images of George Mahashe’s PhD Submission (Courtesy of George Mahashe)


In 2019 the APC welcomed a new cohort of students and some returning students registered for new degrees. Precious Bikitsha, who completed an Honours report on the Xhosa poetess and intellectual, Nontsizi Ngqwetho, has registered for a History MA, and plans further research in African intellectual history, along with another History MA student, Luvuyo Kiti.  Daniel Dix also completed his History Honours last year and is undertaking MA research into the historiographically-neglected colonial magistracy system, focusing on the Durban magistracy, 1893-1910.

In the meantime, some students are finishing up. Ayanda Mahlaba and Rehana Odendaal, both doing MAs in History, now have full drafts of their theses in hand. Carine Zaayman is putting finishing touches to her PhD on the Anarchive and doctoral students Erica de Greef and George Tebogo Mahashe are both poised to receive their doctorates. About Mahashe’s PhD, “MaBareBare: an imagining of khelobedu expressed in the present” the examiners had this to say:

Attentive to the limits of academic conventions in the study of African cultural life, the project adopts a range of methods as a double act of refusal and innovation of alternative modes of knowing/meaning making. The core methods deployed in the project are travel to Berlin to access archives relevant to Balobedu and to art institutions and platforms elsewhere in Europe and Africa; active dreaming, as an evocation of Balobedu dream practices which resonate with distinct understandings of agency and opacity; and creative practice through staging and documenting art exhibitions. Weaving through the three sets of approaches is an innovative openness to unpredictability, an impulse towards reflexivity and a turn to compulsive documentation. These last two — reflexivity and compulsive documentation — are remarkable given the study’s extensive meditation on reflexivity and the fetish of evidentiary documentary practices as problematic elements of the academy and Eurocentric engagements with colonial archives. Yet, this seeming irony is balanced out by the combination of innovative responsiveness to unexpected disruptions of the artist’s/academic/s/molobedu’s itinerary; and documentation of the ‘seams’ of artistic and academic practice, which are normally conventionally closeted, perpetuating the myth of perfection at first shot; with little by way of contestations, doubt, rerouted intellectual itineraries etc. It is this documentation of the offstage ‘threads and seams,’ coupled with the inexhaustible creativity through an organic evolution of the project that lends the study its core sense of originality and surprises. 

Erica’s, entitled “Sartorial Disruption: An investigation of the histories, dispositions, and related practices of the dress/fashion collections of Iziko Museums as a means to reimagine and reframe the sartorial in the museum” the examiner commented:

Sartorial Disruption is a robustly researched, well-written, and original contribution to the interdisciplinary field of African Studies, particularly in the areas of museum studies… The conclusion of the thesis sets out a set of big take-aways. They are all compelling, but the ones that really stuck with me are: 1) In so many ways, the objects in these three museums were incredibly similar, but they were segregated and then classified and curated in ways that articulated and reproduced racist colonial and apartheid stereotypes; 2) Body substitutes – what they are made of, how they are made, and how they are positioned is profoundly political; 3) In curated sartorial displays, bodies – wearers of the dress/fashion – are negated, disappeared; 4) The objects necessary to tell new stories, different kinds of stories simply aren’t there, are not in the museum, and thus there is the urgent need for new languages and new kinds of sartorial literacy.and fashion/dress studies.

Congratulations George and Erica.