Ending 2021

22 Dec 2021 - 12:00
APC researchers take the gap and squeak in a field trip to the Morija Museum and Archives, Lesotho. Photo courtesy of Sibusiso Nkomo.


In 2021 the APC operated mostly in remote mode. At the beginning of the year we assessed what had worked well online in 2020 and what had not, and adjusted our 2021 programme accordingly. We held a variety of successful research events online, including our two big Research Development Workshops, a series of interesting Research Labs organized by APC post-doc Alirio Karina, as well as regular meetings of the Lesotho research group and the Book Writing group. Our digital project team, the Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA), worked intensively and successfully online. 

Two achievements of 2021 bear special mention. The first lies in the bringing into active discussion with each other of bodies of research all too often silo-ised on the basis of ethnicity or region. It has been especially exciting to see our researchers considering the writings of early writers and oral discoursers in seSotho, isiZulu and isiXhosa in relation to each other, tracing networks of communication and the production of knowledge across the region, and tracking changing concepts, discourses and practices over time. This is a breakthrough that the APC has long been seeking to make.

The second achievement is the launch of a new project, re-source, discussed in detail elsewhere in this Gazette. It uses insights from our Five Hundred Year Archive project and applies them to archival possibilities in other areas. The project is significant for the opportunities it offers researchers for identifying and convening new archives on any topic in order to ask and answer new kinds of research questions, thus contributing to the transformation of the southern African archive.

In the second half of 2021 various APC associates and research students have been working on digital curations for the FHYA. The projects include curations on the Xhosa Cattle Killing, S.E.K. Mqhayi, Magema Magwaza Fuze, amaHlubi history, and Spotlight on the Mfecane, with other projects in the pipeline. The FHYA invites proposals on topics of interest for 2022 from APC researchers.

From April 2022 I hope to be on sabbatical leave. The FHYA will remain hard at work. Post-doc Alirio Karina will anchor the APC in this period, supported by key APC researchers, APC research administrator Rifqah Kahn, and by me. The first event of the year is the early Abstract Writing Workshop on 10 January 2022. Please contact Alirio Karina about participation. We will have one Research Development Workshop next year, on 23, 24, and 25 March 2022. The dates for History Access workshops later in the year will be announced in due course and will be integrated in the APC calendar of events for 2022.  

I wish you all a good break, whether you are planning, as some are, to use it for a burst of work, or an opportunity to let go of your work commitments. APC opens to researchers again on 24 January 2022. 

Carolyn Hamilton.