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In September 2020, the APC's Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA) launched the first of a series of podcasts based on materials in its 500 Year Archive. The two-part podcast, uMgungundlovu: through the eyes of the izinceku, offers a description of life at the Zulu king Dingane's capital, uMgungundlovu in the 1830s. This podcast is based on accounts by Lunguza kaMpukane, Thununu kaNonjiya , Ngidi kaMcikaziswa and Sivivi kaMaqungo recorded in the early 1900s by the amateur historian, James Stuart. Stuart published it in a school reader, uKulumetule, in 1925.
APC research fellow Anette Hoffmann’s monograph Kolonialgeschichte hören. Das Echo gewaltsamer Wissensproduktion in historischen Tondokumenten aus dem südlichen Afrika (Hearing colonial history. The echo of violent knowledge production in historical sound recordings from southern Africa, Mandelbaum Verlag, 2020) came out in September. The book is one of the results of her engagement with sound archives. It delivers a systematic study of the postion and potential of sound recordings as sources for an understanding of colonial history that includes the comments of those who were subjected to research by anthropologists and linguists
A test version of the 500 Year Archive (500YA) is now available online (www.fhya.org) for public consultation. It is proving to be a treasure trove for researchers working under lockdown conditions.The 500YA is one of the digital outputs of the APC's Five Hundred Year Archive project (FHYA). The project supports enquiry into the persistently neglected history of southern Africa before colonialism. One of the ways it does this is by developing novel digital research tools.
In August the Archive and Public Culture research initiative at UCT hosted a day long-long colloquium Public Life: Past, Present and Future. The colloquium took stock of fresh theoretical insights, innovative methods and new research in the area of public life, and its histories.
In July 2020, APC research associate Dr. Carine Zaayman was selected for a coveted postdoctoral position in the transnational project “Worlding Public Cultures: Museums in an Age of Decolonization”. The project brings together universities and museums across the Atlantic, including the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Tate Modern (London), the National Museum of World Cultures (Amsterdam), and the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (Berlin).
On 23 July 2020, Indlela eBheke e-Azania: a journey through music went live on Goethe-Institut’s digital platform for artistic performance. The work was divided into 3 parts, namely: (1) Indlela | (2) Rhapta | (3) Kuumbi. The cast for the performance consisted of musicians from Africa and Europe, namely: Sten Ulloa Carler (Swedish classical pianist), Aurelien Gignoux (French Percussionist) and APC research associate Thokozani Mhlambi (voice) and a variety of bodily percussions. The work was composed and produced at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, where Mhlambi held an artistic residency in 2020.
APC research associate Duane Jethro has returned to Cape Town to take up a research position with the Centre for Curating the Archive at UCT, where he will be working with colleagues on the conceptual and visual aesthetic potentialities of the University of Cape Town’s art collection for constituting publicness in contemporary Cape Town. We look forward to seeing this work in APC forums.
Throughout the year, the Five Hundred Year Archive team has been busy trouble-shooting our first online archival exemplar, now live at https://fhya.org. The incredible variety of materials that are convened on this platform in a digital form inspired us to further experimentation. There is a lot on the boil. In this piece, I focus on one aspect of a larger innovation I have been personally involved with, the creation of an interactive essay for the presentation “Exploring uMgungundlovu”. I speak here about “A Small, and Scarcely Perceptible Pathway to uMgungundlovu”.
Henry Fagan recently joined the Five Hundred Year Archive project team as an online bibliographer. Like so much of the FHYA's work, the development of online bibliographic tools is an area of innovation and experimentation. One of his projects is the development of an extensive bibliographic resource for researchers working on the five hundred years before colonialism in the KwaZulu-Natal region.
Over the years, the APC has hosted a series of special scholars because of their particular areas of expertise and their pertinence to work within our research initiative. The form that the guest scholarship takes varies and is tailored to suit the interests of both the guest and the APC. Athambile Masola is the Archive and Public Culture Guest Scholar for July 2020 to June 2021.
After the successful first online workshop in April, the APC convened once more on Zoom for the second Research Development Workshop of the year, on the days of 29 and 30 September and 1 October. A new record of 31 papers by 33 authors were discussed, manifesting the vitality of a research community that is reacting to the limitations imposed by the pandemic with a renewed desire to engage, debate, rethink.