Mbongiseni Buthelezi: (En)countering Shaka: Constituting a Public and Speaking the Ndwandwe Past in KZN
In this chapter of my doctoral thesis I consider the culmination in the Zwide Heritage Celebration of 20 years of efforts by the Ubumbano lwamaZwide to mobilise Ndwandwe descendents into a cohesive group. I show how the event brought together a section of the larger Ndwandwe diaspora, this section being a fragment of the public that the Ubumbano lwamaZwide is attempting to constitute for its efforts to resuscitate the telling of the Ndwandwe past. I then argue that the body of izibongo, izithakazelo and amahubo performed at Ndwandwe gatherings are the rhetorical terrain on which the Ndwandwe are contesting extant Zulu-ist versions of the past in order to reinsert narratives of the Ndwandwe into public history.
David William Cohen: Reading Lubogo and Writing the Busoga Past
When, in the 1920s, YK Lubogo began to compose the first extended written account of the Busoga (Uganda) past, he organized his study (A History of Busoga only published in 1960, 1962) in a manner that gave each pre-colonial state a chapter of exposition, even if in some instances there was but a single typewritten page of material offered. This was an inclusive and in some senses exhaustive means of organizing disparate material in orderly fashion. Lubogo’s approach cohered with Protectorate interests in encompassing all parts of the region within its administration; moreover, it ratified in expert local voice protocols of inclusion that appeared rational and consistent in concept and economical in implementation. All sorts of differently scaled and organized entities were drawn up into Lubogo’s text as roughly similar, yet Lubogo’s text can also be read as reflecting a more complex and differentiated sense of Busoga’s past.
There were ambient pressures—reflected in Lubogo’s project--to give emphasis to those observations and reconstructions of pre-colonial Busoga that could mark Busoga as part of, and representative (if only in microcosm) of, a wider region’s culture, economy, and society, whether this be the Lakes Plateau region or the wider Bantu-speaking region extending from the Atlantic coast to the Indian Ocean. In a sense this was the program of Lubogo, who sought to establish Busoga on a broader stage of political incorporation in which pre-colonial political entities were recognized by the British and incorporated into regional and local governance and administration within the Protectorate. How did YK Lubogo, in his remarkable volume, keep in view local variation, innovation, and dysfunction while recognizing continuities with and resemblances to broader and larger political process in the region?
Victoria J Collis-Buthelezi: Of Romance and Tragedy, Male Friendship
This paper is chapter four of my doctoral dissertation, Under her Crown: Cape Town’s Black Victorians Writing Selves and Citizen Others. In it I excavate the conflicting black male heroisms of Clements Kadalie’s autobiography, My Life and the ICU (1970), and Henri D. Tyamzashe’s ‘Summarised History of the Industrial Commercial Workers Union’ (1941) as models of archival preservation and as anticolonial narrative forms. These two texts are ICU texts—written by members of the national or local executive of the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union of Africa (ICU). The ICU was formed as opportunities for black Victorians—the black elite, who were often mission-educated and who believed in the English empire as a vehicle for securing their civil rights and equality for the black world—were shrinking.
The South African state was stifling black urbanization, black immigration the country and therein black cosmopolitanism. The national executive of the ICU comprised members of mission-educated black elite who were becoming increasingly disillusioned with the black Victorian mode of making demands on the state. Kadalie was the founder and National Secretary of the ICU and Tyamzashe, Research and Complaints secretary and the editor of several of its journals. I argue that their chosen forms of narrative and heroism that they champion are directly related to the kind of archive, or ‘counter-archive’, of the ICU that each wishes to preserve for the postcolonial future he imagines.
Jose Manuel de Prada: ‘Di-xεrretən and the Lioness’: A /xam myth and its landscape
This paper is the first of two aimed at proposing a method for transcribing and editing the /xam kukummi (tales, accounts) collected by W Bleek and LC Lloyd in the 19th century. In this one, I focus on the editing issues, and argue the need to edit the English versions of the texts (most of of which were translated by Lloyd in collaboration with the /xam informants), not only modernizing her English, as other editors have done, but also by making informed changes in it based on the /xam original, which can be accessed by means of DF Bleek´s Bushman Dictionary and her grammatical sketches of the /xam language. Using as a theoretical basis the work of Dell Hymes on the presence of ‘measured verse’ in Chinookan narratives, I also propose to lay out the texts in short lines, identifying some the linguistic markers and other traits that make this viable. As an example of the method proposed, I offer an edited version of the story ‘Di-xεrretənand the Lioness’ arranged in short lines. In connection with this story, I suggest its possible association with the hill at the farm Springbokoog, in the Northern Cape, which is home to some of the most remarkable rock-engravings in the area.
Alexandra Dodd: Secular Séance: Uncovering the Victorian postmodern in contemporary South African art and literature
This text is a work in progress as part of the development of my PhD thesis proposal. Over the past few decades there has been an extraordinary global efflorescence of texts and images that revise or rehearse the themes and aesthetics of works that initially sprung to life during the 19th century. Contemporary refigurings of the Victorian archive take on new meanings and resonances in a South African context where the Victorian era invokes the epicentre of the colonial moment, the high pointof imperialism when Britainnot only consolidated its existing empire, but expanded its colonial possessions in an unprecedented way. From an epistemological perspective, the Victorian archive is strongly tainted because of the centrality of race and the racial sciences to 19th century modes of knowledge production.
My central pursuit is to reframe this body of research and practice within a contemporary postcolonial context, by first looking at postcolonial notions of the archive, and then exploring selected examples of South African artists and writers who have drawn on Victorian era archives in the production of postmodern/contemporary ‘texts’. The ‘shadow rhetorics’ of this genre seem charged with an intention to disrupt and revivify rote thinking about the past and how it shapes our present. In my research, I will be exploring the ways in which contemporary South African artists and writers are wrestling with this country’s troubled Victorian inheritance and countering limited contemporary understandings of the 19th century to forge liberating conceptions of the present.
Jo-Anne Duggan:The right to memory?
Since 1990 a number of laws have been passed that aim to limit or control memory in one way or another. This paper asks if there is a ‘right to memory’, describes a typology of forgetting that may be useful in reflecting on the way in which legislative instruments and judicial processes impact on memory. Using examples of memory laws and truth/reconciliation/justice processes from a number of countries, the paper sets out areas for further investigation into the relationship between, memory, truth and justice – and the archive. It is a very tentative beginning.
Megan Greenwood: On St. George’s Cathedral and Bearing Witness to the Past
This paper situates the activities and vision of the Crypt Centre of Memory and Witness, St Georges Cathedral, Cape Town, within the broader contemporary South African context. It examines the interrelationship of the Crypt Centre’s vision, exhibitions and practice of attending to the past and to bearing witness with contemporary deliberations about the public sphere and the shaping of citizenship. Through this process, it seeks to demonstrate a duality at play; the Crypt Centre’s activities helps establish the Cathedral's contemporary relevance as a capillary space of public engagement while at the same time offering coordinates of ontological orientations for citizenry within and beyond a ‘post- new South Africa’ context.
Carolyn Hamilton: Ukwehla Ngesilulu: The Emergence of the Ntungwa as the Elite in the Zulu Kingdom Under Shaka
In a 1996 compilation of essays concerned to delineate the historical processes, which produced the ethnicities at play in the contemporary politics of KwaZulu-Natal, John Wright and I addressed the question of ethnicity and political change in the region before 1840. We attempted to explain the origins of ethnic consciousness in the region through an examination of the earliest processes of identity formation for which there is historical evidence. We tackled the assumption that ethnicity or ‘tribalism’ as it is often called in an African context, is an inherent feature of African society and therefore needs little by way of historical explanation. Against this we argued that Zulu ethnicity does not date back to some primordial past.
In this paper I revisit the evidence concerning the ntungwa identity and our conceptualisation of it as an ‘ethnic’ identity. It seems opportune and appropriate now to revisit this material for a variety of reasons. For one thing, the climate of scholarly and political-public interest in identity in the KwaZulu-Natal region has shifted substantially since the 1980s and 1990s when both academic and public political discussion was primarily centered on understanding the larger category of Zulu ethnicity. Individual clan histories are being brought sharply into focus in academic studies of local areas as much as they are in the Facebook sites of clan members, public commemorations of clan ancestors, grave rituals, land and chiefship claims and in heritage projects such as the KwaZulu-Natal Family Tree project and the Archival Platform’s Ancestral Stories initiative. The altered political climate has further made it possible to speak relatively easily with people in the region about questions of identity and to be offered wide ranging historical accounts that would have been burdened with dangerous political freight in the period of intense political conflict of 1980s and early 1990s.
In addition, our understanding of the pertinent available archive and the conditions of its making has grown immeasurably in the intervening decades.
Recent archaeological interventions, notably by Simon Hall, invite reconsideration of the cultural logic that governed engagements of the past when matters of identity were being refashioned to accommodate new political realities. This reassessment is also made in the light of Paul Landau most recent contribution to this field of study.
The paper examines the specifics of the formulation of the ntungwa identity in the Zulu kingdom under Shaka. The first part of the paper examines the extension of nascent royal Zulu power over non-Zulu lineages, in what can be broadly described as the first phase of Zulu expansion, i.e. from c. mid-1810s to c. early-1820s. It offers a detailed reconstruction of the dynamics, events and chronology of this phase. It examines the terms of incorporation of these lineages and the fates of the larger clans and chiefdoms to which they may have given their names or to which they belonged. It identifies a pattern of close assimilation of the non-Zulu lineages incorporated earliest by the new Zulu rulers. In the next section, the basis of a growing cohesion across these groupings is analysed, while the final section looks toward the second phase in the expansion of the Zulu kingdom to consider the effect and significance of the development of a common identity by this group of lineages as against the remaining non-Zulu lineages within the emerging Zulu kingdom.
Daniel Herwitz: Recovering the Past: MF Husain’s Live Action Heritage
Early modern Indian art is a drama about recapturing a past repressed under colonialism, museumized, alienated from Indian elites as an effect of colonialism, and yet living on each and every street corner. It is this paradox, along with a deep split in late colonial society between modernizing elites and non-modernizing "subalterns" that generates this drama. The nationalist impulse is deeply connected to this desire to reclaim the past Edward Said and others have detailed the many ways in which this museumizing imagination treated entire cultures. Great cultural moments were petrified in translucent preservatives for the Western gaze and consigned endlessly to replay the past in a series of exact repetitions.' These ideas are now familiar. The picture of the Indian past, indeed the totality of Indian traditional life, as a timeless artifact under glass, comes through clearly in the eighteenth and nineteenth-century paintings and watercolors composed in India by British painters. Painters like Thomas and William Daniell, William Hodges, Sir Charles D'Oyly and George Chinnery went to India, in the words of Daniell, `to transport to Europe the picturesque beauties of the favored regions [of India]'.They ignore the boundless energies of millions and represent India as if were nothing but an eccentric cousin of Constable's Wivenhoe Park. They did not merely drain India of its life and vibrancy, but blended their concept of the picturesque with a kind of pre-Raphaelite romanticism of the ancient They fixated on the ancient-like ambience of India, typified by its decaying temples, eternal pagodas, and half-empty palaces, as images of their own past recaptured.
Xolelwa Kashe-Katiya: Remembering and Forgetting District One: Prestwich Memorial and the Formation of a New Society in Cape Town
This paper was prepared for submission to the Centre for African Studies as required for the completion of the coursework for Critical Issues in Heritage Studies (CAS5009S). It will also inform my research thesis that seeks to explore contested notions of identity and ownership with regards to human remains that have been mobilised or repatriated in post-apartheid South Africa. District One refers to an area of Green Point in Cape Town that was used as a ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ burial ground which stretched from Buitengracht Street to the Green Point Common. Most of the people who were buried on District One belonged to what some researchers have referred to as the ‘colonial underclass’ that included slaves, servants, sailors, indigenous Khoisan, African labourers, Muslims and free blacks.
Excavations in 2003 revealed centuries-old skeletons that were followed by heated public debates, with opposing positions being assumed by civil society, the academy, developers, heritage practitioners and government officials. In 2005, the District Six Museum, South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), the City of Cape Town formed the Prestwich Place Project Committee (PPPC) that resolved to build a dedicated memorial in which these human remains could be reinterred with dignity. The Prestwich Place Memorial or ossuary currently or visitors centre represents a ‘gateway’ towards the memory of District One, however, the gateway itself seems to be disappearing into obscurity with development in the area. The conflict over the Prestwich Place human remains is etched on the memorial in the form of the exhibition; the modest structure represents a muting of history of dispossession against the backdrop of a gentrified landscape. The improvisation and shifting of responsibility by present society as represented by the memorial has contributed to the silencing of a traumatic history, the complexities of redress, the use (and abuse) of the notion of identity.
Nessa Leibhammer: From anonymity towards identity: possibilities of cultural recovery for Southern Natal
This paper is part of a long-term project within the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative, titled Ethnologised Pasts and their Archival Futures. It is more specifically located within a pilot project that considers the scattered archive of the later pre- and early colonial period of KwaZulu-Natal between the Thukela and Mzimkhulu Rivers.
A state of ‘radical depersonalisation’ is most often associated with the display of pre- and early colonial African material culture in museums and art galleries. The paper considers innovative strategies for representation enabling shifts in the dynamics of display and reception.
One of the contributing factors to the depersonalization of African material held in museum collections is that it has been separated from its historical narratives. Information regarding its makers, users and collectors is largely lacking. Without this it is inevitable that the material is cast as ‘timeless’ and ‘tribal’. This paper presents three instances where museum objects were reunited with aspects of their previously lost histories.
Jesmael Mataga: ‘Hall of Chiefs?’: Monuments, Objects and Exhibits in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe
In this paper I carry on with a historical reconstruction of the processes, aims and motives of museum collecting, representation and commemoration in Rhodesia. The paper links processes of collecting and commemoration in the colonial era, to the discourse and practice of collecting, [representation], commemoration and [restitution] in the post-colony. I examine the conversations/linkages between colonial collecting and [representation] with postcolonial projects on memorialisation and museum [representation]. The centrality Cecil John Rhodes in colonial commemoration is assessed, showing how Rhodes is collected, [represented] and commemorated in the museum. I also use the collections of Robert E. Codrington, a colonial Administrator who collected ethnographic objects, to understand the nature and processes of colonial collecting, schemas of arrangement and [representation]. A contextualisation of museum practice in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe is meant to allow an analysis of the politics of the production of knowledge and of the uses of the past in colonial and postcolonial contexts.
Grant McNulty:Traditional Authority and the use of history in contemporary Umbumbulu
Following the transition from minority to majority rule in South Africa, traditional leaders have played a formal role in South Africa’s local government, often performing similar and competing functions (service delivery, allocating land and socio-economic development) to municipalities. This has resulted in important political challenges and compromises, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) where the institution of traditional leadership is deeply entrenched.
Contemporary Umbumbulu provides fertile ground for understanding the intersection of forms of municipal government and traditional leadership, and the way in which history is mobilised in various contexts to consolidate power, gain access to resources and achieve certain political aims. In the paper, I show that in addition to roles of governance, the municipality (through its community outreach heritage project, the Ulwazi Programme), claims to be a custodian of ‘heritage resources’, broad notions of indigenous knowledge, history and traditional culture that have been refigured and are applied to an agenda of socio-economic development. Traditional leaders also realise the developmental potential of these resources and their value in consolidating power.
In the Ethekwini Municipality where the balance of power has shifted from the IFP (which has longstanding ties with traditional leaders) to the ANC, they understand that the one resource they still command (or embody), is the archive of traditional culture and practices. In some cases, they are the archive, not only as an institution and through the cultural knowledge they transmit from generation to generation but also as direct, living descendants of important ancestors. This is an archive that the ANC government wants to infiltrate but cannot. While it positions itself as custodian of broad notions of ‘indigenous knowledge’, ‘traditional culture’ and ‘history’, (linked to socio-economic development and political power), the traditional leaders remain the custodians of indigenous ideas, practices and culture.
Thokozani Mhlambi: ‘Lalela Zulu’: The early years of black radio broadcasts in Zulu, circa 1940-1944
This project seeks to uncover the making of black radio in South Africa in the years of its inception, focusing mainly on the Zulu language broadcasts. It hopes to capture that moment of intrigue, wonder and fundamental change in the way in which listening habits were carried out and understood. The moment is important in the history of South African music. It triggered the birth of studio music recording and created a demand for the radio-set as an object. In its appeal to a broader audience of literate and illiterate, it sparked the formation of a South African listening public. A public of disciplined bodies that understands the habits of listening; from the switching-on of the set to attentive listening in silence. It also facilitated the presence and domestication of the radio-set within the African home. Radio could account for a whole world out there in the presence of one’s home, therefore actively situating the Zulu speaking person into a global imagined community of listeners. In so doing, linking citizens in different territories into a community of Zulu speakers – people who would otherwise not have known of each other.
Michael Nixon: Kirby’s Collection of Photographs
Percival Robson Kirby was born in 1887 in Aberdeen, Scotland. This was ‘the year of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee’, as he informs us in his memoir Wits End (1967:15), well after the British began to reconceptualise their relationship to the peoples of Africa and Asia (see Said (1979), Spivak (1987), Stocking (1989) and many others). He had a Scottish mother and English father, and was raised in Aberdeen. There he attended school, teacher’s training college, and university, qualifying as a teacher, and receiving an MA before studying composition at the Royal Academy of Music, London. In 1914, aged 27, he took up a post in South Africa as Music Organiser to the Natal Education Department. Seven years later he would found the Music Department, University of the Witwatersrand, which he headed until his retirement in 1952, aged 65. Among his many scholarly activities, his study of indigenous musical instruments and music of southern Africa south of the Zambezi stands out as a major pioneering achievement. It was not his only field of research, as we find him publishing on numerous topics, including a strong second stream of publications in history. He did not scorn, however, to write on a wide variety of subjects, often in one-off pieces: audiology (1956a), crafts (kaross making (1932), china painting (1958), and dry-walling construction (1956b), historical geography (1956c), and criminology (1959) were all grist for his mill.
Gerrit Olivier: ‘The land is still the same’ and In the Footsteps of Marlow: Eben Venter’s Trencherman
My submission for the November seminar includes a draft introduction to a book on the treatment of land in Afrikaans literature, provisionally entitled The land is still the same and providing an outline of chapters. The second part is an analysis of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (2002), which will be followed by comparisons with other classical colonial texts and with Eben Venter’s Horrelpoot (2006).
Kylie Thomas:Visual Disturbance: The deaths of Biko and the archives of apartheid
Archival deaths we cannot mourn
Archives are conventionally understood as spaces within which the documents that record past events are stored. In this conception the archive is a space of preservation. The archive has also been conceptualized as a space of disappearance and loss, even of destruction. The first version proclaims the archive as a vast yet inert storehouse, a charnel-house of history. The second configures the archive as a space of danger and dissolution, a space of classification and rule so powerful that to be entered into the archive is to be subject to a particular kind of erasure. In both conceptions the archive is imbued with a sense of agency it does not really have. And in both formulations the subjects of history surrender their agency at the door to the archive, a door that permits entry but no exit, a heavy door that swings shut on any possibility of a future that does not repeat the past.
Hedley Twidle: From ‘The Origin of Language’ to a language of origin: A prologue to the Grey Collection
This piece attempts to chart the curious, contested space occupied by the Grey Collection in contemporary South Africa: how this once celebrated but now forgotten bequest housed at the National Library of South Africa might be (or might not be) approached, used or appreciated; the complex networks of exchange across the southern hemisphere through which it was constituted under British imperialism; its curiously dual nature and its afterlives, or lack of them.
Paying attention to a provocative series of ‘doublings’ that structure the archive – among them the division between medieval European treasures and nineteenth-century ‘indigenous’ materials, as well as the Jekyll and Hyde like double-act performed by George Grey and Wilhelm Bleek – this account suggests that while several approaches (particularly the more celebratory narratives surrounding the Bleek and Lloyd Collection) seek to separate out the uncomfortable and enlightened elements of colonial text-making and translation, it is their co-presence within the language act which constitutes the ongoing, uncomfortable but also enabling paradox of working with such materials.
Marlene Winberg:The Kulimatji Thesis: Towards a Conclusion
This discussion paper works towards the conclusion of my Kulimatji research project. Up until very recently, the Namibian !kun children’s part of the 19th century Bleek and Lloyd Collection has been viewed as an appendix and language learning exercise for Lucy Lloyd. Prior to this research project, we had little contextual information and knowledge of the !kun boys’ childhoods in pre-colonial north east Namibia- our impressions of their childhoods were vague; my thesis proposes that the !kun children’s archive has been confined to silence. A close reading of related historical documents alongside the textual and visual components of the collection puts the children in the context of a larger group of displaced children who were brought to the Cape by colonial authorities during the 1870s and 1880s. My reading redefines the !kun collection as a complex conversation between Lloyd and the children, accompanied by the powerful acts of personal storytelling and image making in her house. My conclusion proposes that contemporary !kun speakers from north Namibia and southern Angola (whose language is directly related to the dialects that was spoken by the children), could further illuminate their work and thus assist in breaking their silence.
Jill Weintroub: Owning the Image: Tracing rock art in the field with Helen Tongue, 1905-1907
This paper looks at how landscape features in Dorothea Bleek’s early rock art research. It examines Bleek’s initial excursions into the field in southern Africa and describes her 1905-7 trips with fellow school teacher Helen Tongue to rock art sites in the mountains of the south eastern Cape and Lesotho, and to rock engravings located on the hot dusty plains of the Karoo. Drawing closely on Bleek’s texts in the book produced after these trips, the paper explores the research methods and processes employed by Bleek and Tongue during their weeks in the field. It situates Bleek’s fieldwork in the context of her tertiary education in late Imperial Germany, and in relation to her later fieldwork excursions throughout southern Africa in search of language samples as well as material culture and rock art. It further situates her research in relation to subsequent rock art scholarship in the South African academy. It argues that Bleek’s cautious, empiricist findings of the early twentieth century around the age, authorship and meanings of rock art have been overlooked and discredited in the turn to shamanism paradigms which dominated its study and interpretation in the 1970s and 1980s.
The paper interrogates Bleek’s view that the painting tradition was produced by “natural” people enjoying an idyllic lifestyle in a pristine landscape, and that their love of painting stemmed from the ‘large part pleasure, and the search for pleasure, play[ed] in the life of primitive people’. It documents her sustained view that most paintings were a representation of what made the people depicted on the rocks ‘bushmen’ – specifically their daily activities such as hunting, dancing and masquerade, cattle raids and battles. Long before it was fashionable, she believed paintings could be interpreted in terms of some of the myths she had read in the notebooks collected by her father and aunt during their ‘bushman researches’ at Mowbray in the 1870s.
John Wright: AT Bryant and the Lala
This paper is the second in which I look at the history of the identities of the African people who lived in the southern Natal-northern Transkei region in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It begins by discussing the received meaning of the term Lala as it emanates from Alfred Bryant’s influential Olden Times in Zululand and Natal, first published in 1929. It goes on to examine the ways in which the term had been used in the literature in the half-century or so before Bryant’s time, and then looks at the changes in the ways in which Bryant himself used the term in his writings between 1905 and 1949. It concludes with a brief discussion of the critical examinations of the term made by academic historians since the 1970s.
Carine Zaayman: Remnant and Ruin: Sketches of the anarchives of Lady Anne Barnard and Krotoa in book form
This document presents a set of notes rather than a paper. I am hoping that these notes can form the basis of a
discussion and provide me with input at this stage of my process, in the spirit of the workshop atmosphere.
I have been working on ordering and arranging the numerous photographs I have been taking for my planned exhibition, in the form of a book (comprising as yet loose leaf pages). Currently my ideas are focused around the notions of ‘remnant’ and ‘ruin’ in relation to the way in which the past is, and can be imagined to be, embodied in the present. The past with which I am concerned is (as those familiar with my project would know) constituted by the historical figures Krotoa and Lady Anne Barnard. The following notes are intended to explore the notions of remnant and ruin in a not necessarily logically structured way, but rather through association and by invoking an expanded context.
Jon Berndt: The Spectral Life of Posters in the Archive
The archival materials which I employ in this study all relate to the collection of Soviet political posters from the 1940s, known as TASS1 posters, held in the Iziko South African National Gallery (ISANG) collection. The TASS posters form the nexus of networks of archival material that link South Africa and Russia (aka the Soviet Union) in the 1940s and the 1980s.
This research forms part of the historical narrative about South African Struggle posters that has been initiated by such publications as, Images of Defiance (2004), Red on Black (2007), From Weapon to Ornament (2003) and the Thami Mnyele + MEDU Art Ensemble Retrospective (2009). To date very little work has been done on the Russian and historical (archival) networks of political posters connected to the South African Struggle posters.
I will follow Meischer, Rizzo and Silvester (2009) who, by defining posters as archival ephemera, argue that is possible to broaden and ‘enhance the poster’s contextualisation’ by tracing their relationship to other archival materials in this category (2009.10). I will utilise materials such as newspapers, magazines, exhibitions, photographs and architecture, to explore how the TASS posters and South African Struggle posters became symbolic of political imaginaries as they were deployed in public spaces in the 1940s and 1980s.
Mbongiseni Buthelezi: Points of Departure: Displacing the Discipline
Alexandra Dodd: Dressed to thrill: The Victorian postmodern and counter-archival imaginings in the work of Mary Sibande
In this paper (due for publication in a special edition of the journal Critical Arts entitled “The Address of the Other": The Body and the Senses in Contemporary South African Visual Art) I explore the idea of the Victorian postmodern, as experienced through the Sophie persona that dominates Mary Sibande’s sculptural installations and digital prints. This text is part of a larger project, in which I attempt to theorise the relationship between a Victorian past and a postmodern, postcolonial present through explorations of late 20th century and 21st century texts/artworks that revise or rehearse themes, which initially sprung to life during the 19th century. The question at the heart of my project concerns Sibande’s reach into the past and her resuscitation of a 19th trope or fragment – in this case, the Victorian dress. I am interested in what this act of symbolic retrieval achieves or allows for in the public realm of the present. In what way does Sibande’s ‘counter-archival’ grappling with the colonial past open up new channels of discursivity in a post-colonial, post-apartheid South Africa seeking fresh configurations around race, class and difference for the future? And, in particular, how do her refigurings of maid and madam stereotypes contribute to a re-imagining of the hidden histories and contemporary power dynamics inherent in domestic service in South Africa?
Megan Greenwood: The Presence of the Past
What does it matter to us in 2010 that twenty-eight years ago there were 54 people who spent 23 days fasting at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town? Through The Presence of the Past I begin to provide a foundation from which to explore responses to this query. Based on anthropological inquiry, this paper begins to contextualise a research process that is working towards an exhibition of the 1982 fast. Instigated by the Crypt Centre for Memory and Witness, the research process is an extension of the social justice ministry of St George's Cathedral.
This paper begins by historically locating St George's Cathedral on a socio-political and geographical topography before considering some of its activities in a post-apartheid South Africa. It describes the beginnings of and perceptual frameworks that inform the intentions of the Crypt Centre for Memory and Witness before describing some of the current activities in which it is involved. The historical contextualisation and examination of the interplay of histories within the Cathedral space provide a means through which to explore how the past is at play in and through the Crypt Centre's current research process. The paper provides a framework in which to consider the interplay in relation to exhibitions, notions of the public sphere and constructions of citizenship.
Mona Hakimi: Complexities of ‘ Community’: Fragments from the field
Carolyn Hamilton & Nessa Liebhammer: Construing an Archive: The material culture record of the Thukela-Mzimkhulu region (c.1730-1910)
Daniel Herwitz: Monument, Ruin and Redress in South African Heritage
Brown Maaba: Liberation Archives in South Africa: Strength and limitations
Jesmael Mataga: ‘Disciplining’ the Colony: Sciences, collections and objects in Rhodesia(1890-1980) and Zimbabwe(post 1980)
In this paper, I present a summary of issues surrounding the making of museums, museum collecting and representation in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe. I demonstrate how the museum functions within the changing political economy in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe. The concept of '(D)discipline' is applied in its two meanings i.e. 'Disciplining' as in the development of specific scientific fields of study within the museum and 'disciplining' denoting the process of controlling, ordering and exercising power/authority over the other. Further to this, I seek to carry out a biography of the collections of the National museums in Rhodesia. How they were accumulated, who collected what and why? I profile specific objects and relics that have caught attention of the public sphere in Zimbabwe and argue that the collecting regimes in the colonial era (1890-1980) were not as unsystematic as implied in the classification of most collectors as 'Antiquarian' and that the collecting regimes have an effect on the revaluation of objects in the period following political independence (post 1980). I present here the mobility of one object, the NgomaLungundu; from the source community to private/researcher hands, to a colonial museum, its subsequent retrieval in the postcolonial era and how it is brought into the public sphere. The movement and the lifecycle of objects in general and of the NgomaLungundu specifically, evoke dialogue on the relationship between the material object and ownership, custodianship, identity, restitution, and the role of the museum.
Grant McNulty: Contested Histories and Power in Umbumbulu
Elsemi Olwage: Remembering and Re-imagining: Exploring the role of the past in navigating current social realities on a San resettlement farm in Namibia
Cóilín Parsons: A Map of Everyday Life?: The Ordnance Survey in Irelandas a case study
The Ordnance Survey of Ireland– which produced a series of maps for the entire country in the nineteenth century – was not merely an exercise in scientific cartography. Alongside the maps, the Survey produced volumes of observations about the history, climate, folklore, economy and daily life of the tens of thousands of small settlements dotted throughout the island.
In this paper I put to the test an assumption about scientific maps that permeates everyday life studies, from Merleau-Ponty to De Certeau – that maps are unable to represent the everyday experiences of ordinary citizens. Reading both the maps and the related writings of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland I argue that this mapping project was in fact a large-scale attempt to capture and represent everyday life. The scale of the maps – six inches to the mile – demanded such detail that the Survey had no choice but to engage in a richly detailed study that gestures towards twentieth-century studies of everyday life. The question of the scale at which history is written, so pertinent in post-war Europe–was already exercising mapmakers in the British empire in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Lucia Saks: The Moment of Truth: Screening the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Nick Shepherd: The Mirror in the Ground: Archaeology and society in South Africa
Janie Swanepoel: The Victoria Street Market: The buzz, the change and Joe’s Corner Shop
Kylie Thomas: Zanele Muholi’s Intimate Archive: Photography and post-apartheid lesbian lives
This paper focuses on the work of South African black lesbian photographer Zanele Muholi and raises the question of how experience that is deemed unspeakable can enter representation. If we always read images through ‘codes of connotation’, through what Roland Barthes terms the ‘studium’ of our knowing, how is it possible to overturn ways of seeing that render lesbian subjectivity invisible? And if lesbian subjectivity is made visible through suspending the structures of recognition, what are the political implications of occupying such an ‘outlaw’ position? How does being beyond recognition open or close the field of political possibility? The paper makes two theoretical claims – one, that Barthes’ influential concept of the ‘punctum’ can be understood as a mode of queer reading, and two, that Muholi's work constructs an archive that insists on the specificity of lesbian lives and loss through a complex strategy of 'passing'. My reading of Muholi's portraits that constitute her ‘Faces and Phases’ series explores how her photographs work with the ambiguities of ‘passing’ – passing away, passing between states of gendered being, and passing through the prohibitions against making lesbian experience visible and mourning lesbian loss. In this way the paper argues that Muholi's most recent body of work ‘queers’ both the conventions of memorial photography and her own earlier representations of lesbian subjectivity.
Hedley Twidle: Writing the Company: From Van Riebeek’s Daghregister to Sleigh’s Eilande
Slums, years, have buried you. I would not dare Console you if I could… Philip Larkin, The Less Deceived, (1955)
Besides, there is nothing so tainted with fiction as the history of the Company... Jorge Luis Borges, ‘The Lottery in Babylon’, (1941)
This piece, written as one chapter in a literary / cultural history of Cape Town, contrasts various contemporary adaptations of the early Dutch East India Company Daghregister (Diary/Logbook). It concentrates on Dan Sleigh's Eilande (translated by André Brink, Islands, 2002) to examine how an archivist turned novelist uses the textual outcrops provided by official documentation to create a huge prose work that is remarkable for placing the seventeenth-century Cape settlement in its properly global colonial context. Surely this region's most exhaustive rendering of the genre known problematically as 'the historical novel', it ranges from seventeenth-century Germany and Holland via St Helena and the Cape to Madagascar, Mauritius and Batavia. And if for Brink 'the lacunae in the archives are most usefully filled through magical realism, metaphor and fantasy', (Coetzee and Nuttall, Negotiating the Past, 3), Sleigh's work forms an opposite pole, offering an example of a much slower, lonelier genesis and a more cautious recovery of historical specificity. I hope to discern the possibilities and constraints of these very different fictional modes, asking what is gained and what is lost in the attempt to recreate the strange and desperate place that was, as Van Riebeeck assured his penny-pinching superiors, ‘More the name than the reality’.
Marlene Winberg: The Making of the Kulimatji Collection
This paper works towards a chapter in my MA FA thesis: KulimatjiKuhm – We Tell our Old Stories. An examination of two episodes in the collection of !kun narratives: Lucy Lloyd's !kun children's collection (1879 -1881) and the Winberg-Kulimatji collection 1994 – 2010.
The aim of this paper is to describe the process of collecting the stories, art and music, that later came to be described as the 'Kulimatji' collection. I provide a sketch of the changing social, economic and political atmosphere over the fifteen years of facilitating the collection, the individuals and groups of !kun speakers with whom I worked, as well as the collage of methodologies I employed in the process. Woven into these descriptions, is a sense of my own agency and changing perspectives over this time.
John Wright: South of uThukela: History and identity in an interstitial zone from the mid-18thto the early 20th century
Sandra Young: Sebastian Cabot’s Instructions to Sailors: The texts of Atlantic crossings and the shape of what can be known in the sixteenth century
Niklas Zimmer: Outlining an (hypothetical) archive of Cape Town’s Jazz Photography in View of Developing Contemporary Visual Arts-related Approaches to Working with a Broad Spectrum of Photographic Objects, not Originally Related to the Fine Arts
David Cohen: Perils and Pragmatics of Critique: Reading Barack Obama Sr.’s 1965 review of Kenya’s development plan (2010)
Obama Sr's 1965 critique of Kenya's development plan reads. . .as remarkably shrewd and prescient--shrewd in its efforts to navigate the perilous political differences among the major figures and forces of the day including Jomo Kenyatta, Tom Mboya, and Oginga Odinga, as well as the false securities of ideologies, in this case the messy, irresolvable debates over the relative values of African socialism, African tradition, and capitalism. . .prescient in its warnings regarding gratuitous privatization of productive resources and public goods; excessive disparities in wealth; and uneven regional development. Indeed, he makes an almost forgotten case for the African state (and for good governance, progressive taxation, and effective regulation of private investment). The 1965 article is an improbable yet extraordinarily acute rehearsal of the best critiques of structural adjustment (and its privileging of the private sector against the state) in the 1980s and 1990s and of the failures of unregulated capital in our present decade. In a time of spirited animation of big ideas in the first decade of African independence, Obama Sr. offered his readers a lesson in the promise of pragmatics in the address to the difficult challenges of economic and political development, nationally and globally.
Daniel Herwitz: Introduction: The Heritage of Heritage (and how I entered it)
Heritage arose in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as the middle term connecting a peoples’ origin to its destiny. In their ritual and religion, museums, courts of law, poetry and politics, ideals, sciences and liberal arts were the accretion, the crystallization of who they were, the slow build up of themselves over time, fine and noble, time tested. This inheritance was a sacred trust to grow then gift to the next generation. Heritage was identity through lineage, Gilbert and Sullivan stuff, Winston Churchill stuff, Lady Diana Spencer stuff. But heritage was equally a vantage point from which modern life could and should be critiqued. For modern life had lost sight of its true origins, its deepest values in the whirl of its getting and spending, class transformations, industrialization, urban blight, Victorian work ethic, taste for conquest. Modern society was yes, up to a point the accretion of noble values, but it had also lost its way. Floundering in the desert, unaware that it lacked a road map or destination, modern society required reminding of what it really was and where it had gone wrong. This turn to origins/deepest values became the stern stuff of moralizing. Only the return to and appropriation of a peoples’ virtues and ideals would set the people again on its right historical road, supply them their destination: their (think symphonic cadence) destiny.
John Higgins: ‘Even the dead will not be safe’: On Dis(re)membering Williams
In one of his many striking apercus, Walter Benjamin wrote of how every period ‘must strive anew to wrest tradition away from the conformism that is working to overpower it’; he further noted how the ‘only historian capable of fanning the spark of hope in the past is the one who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he is victorious’ (Benjamin 2006: 391). Aside from simple recognition of the many ways in which the entire academic career of Raymond Williams – in books such as Culture and Society and The Country and the City – can be read as successfully instantiating just such a ‘wresting of the tradition away from conformism’ (the subtitle of Williams’s final essay collection, The Politics of Modernism, was Against the New Conformists), and underlining the consequent importance of Williams’s stress on the cultural and political dynamics of the ‘selective tradition’, we might return to Benjamin’s words from 1940 in order to ask just how safe from a demeaning or belittling conformism the legacy of Raymond Williams’s work is some twenty-odd years after his death?
In this essay, I want to draw attention to one powerful mode of this conformist cultural memory as a mode of disremembering. Disremembering is not some chance error or mistake in memory: it enjoys too deliberate or systematic an effect for what we call misremembering. Disremembering comes through, rather, as an attempt at effacing or dismembering cultural memory through the dismissal or ‘dissing’ of someone’s memory and reputation. This essay will examine just three such instances of disremembering Williams.
Saarah Jappie: An Overview of Cape Ajami Manuscripts: Chapter two
The paper I have chosen to present for this quarter’s seminar forms part of one of the introductory chapters of my thesis. As the thesis is a biography of the social life of the ajami manuscripts of Cape Town, it is crucial that I paint the picture of the manuscripts from the beginning: where they are, what they look like, what they say and so on. While I have covered the first two of these three points, I am still in the process of covering the last one. When this chapter is completed, I will have analysed the contents of three manuscripts. Thus far I have only analysed one.
The paper is quite visually descriptive, but I haven’t included any images yet. I understand that the visuals are quite important and, as such, I will be displaying them during my presentation.
Fritha Langeman: The Exploded Book: A disarticulation of visual knowledge systems within sites of natural history display
Part of my PhD study proposes the production of two exhibitions over the next few years. These will identify the inability of outmoded methods of display within museums of natural history to reflect the visual analogies of contemporary biological science, and will suggest alternative approaches. The first of these exhibitions, Subtle Thresholds, is currently running at the South African Museum. One of the first challenges of my study is to provide a visual analysis of the exhibition in the form of an introduction and simultaneously to find an appropriate format in which to do this. I am circulating 2 jpegs of my first attempt at a section of this introductory layout, which attempts to conjure up a web-like matrix (impossible in 2-dimensions perhaps), starting at a central point and taking a reduced tour through the exhibition. These two images should be viewed as a single fold-out double-page spread. The comments attached to the images are intended as introductory and set out some of the concerns both of the exhibition and of the reading of the exhibition in relation to museums and display. The layout attempts to visually articulate a manner in which layered sets of ideas and interconnections can be expressed. I am also circulating a condensed version of the proposal (below) which gives some context to the study. Although the proposal title is “the exploded book” my intention is to develop this notion through the exhibitions rather than in the written document itself, which may prove fairly conventional.
INTRODUCTION and RATIONALE
Contemporary discourse recognises that there are at least two approaches to the expression of knowledge about the world: emergent, organic systems in which what constitutes knowledge and its production is both contingent and fluid; and the more conservative, Enlightenment perspective which accepts a coherent, objective world, presented within a single, if vast, collection (Turnbull 2005). The legacy of this Enlightenment thinking is inextricably bound to print as both a political innovation and a creative practice, as it suggests ways of influence and a pattern of thought that is based on binary referents -- of an archive and its text, of object and image and of image and text. That print is always bound to an ‘other’ -- a state outside of itself -- positions it as a discipline of oppositions: matrix and impression, original and reproduction, negative and positive, oil and water, depth and surface. As such it has its own binary taxonomy and is historically framed by Enlightenment symmetrical order. The print in book form has been instrumental in the perpetuation of linear models of knowing the world. Not only were ideas of classification, taxonomy and evolution communicated through the book and formed part of the reproduction and replication of those systems, but underlying linearities were supported by the codex structure, presenting a constrained and hierarchical ordering of material, not least of all linked to its origins in the church. The codex book is both binary and sequential in its form. The symmetry of the open book means that pages are viewed in relation to each other, while the inclusion of the frontispiece and colophon in more traditional books, literally sandwich the contents of the book between an explanatory narrative and a textual reflection. The conventions of the structure and divisions of the book imbue the book with a temporality, as, through a slow process of disclosure, its contents are revealed over time. In that the book is perceived as a relatively conservative contemporary form in which to present knowledges, an explosion of this form becomes a necessary strategy in the disarticulation of systems.
George Mahashe: The Importance of the Photographic Documents Made by the Krige to the Lobedu
The colonial archive is any depository of data created during the course of colonialism by members of the colonising culture, regardless of the creator's political stand point The Lobedu images in the Iziko archives are signs' for accessing both Lobedu and colonial IKS, at the moment the only IKS being read from these images is the IKS of the former colonial institution, colonial by virtue of them being read with the interest of its founding culture which is the culture of colonialism.
The objective of my research is to bring these images into the circle of the signified people (in this case the Lobedu), so that they too may engage with these images for their own discourses and to see what use the signified have for the images. Although these images have been brought to the signified people before', there is no real institution for making sure these images become part of the signified's discourse.
Grant McNulty: [No title]
This paper is based on ongoing doctoral research on the Ulwazi Programme (UP), an online archival initiative that has been set up by the Ethekwini (Durban) MunicipalLibrary to provide opportunities for communities actively to record and share their
contemporary history and culture. The programme is informed by local (municipal), national and international policies. It uses the existing library infrastructure and Web 2.0 technologies to create what its advocates term a collaborative, online indigenous
knowledge resource in the form of a Wiki. The Programme Leader selects `fieldworkers' from the immediate communities served by the library who are trained by library staff to collect digital audio and visual material (such as recorded oral histories,
photographs of material culture, topography etc.) in the areas in which they live. Library staff then teach fieldworkers to add this content (which the programme deems 'local, indigenous knowledge') to the Ulwazi Wiki, using their local libraries and Ulwazi's central office in Durban as submission points. The libraries also serve as Internet access points where members of the communities can browse the Ulwazi Wiki and the Internet, and contribute to the Wiki if they have user accounts.
The UP offers a seemingly democratised, collaborative and grassroots approach to archiving. Local people are trained to record and collect local histories and contemporary culture to be shared and preserved on the Ulwazi website. However, the programme's
claims to be an inclusive and community-oriented initiative raise important questions about the collection of local knowledge within an institutionalised, municipal (local governmental) framework. What constitutes local`knowledge' and who decides this?
What does a programme like this collect and what does it neglect? What power relations are at play in the collection and submission of content? To what extent is the programme inclusive and to what extent does it propose. an idealised model of community-oriented
Njabulo Ndebele: Some thoughts for a Book Project
This is a proposal in the making to write a series of short books in which I reflect on what I consider to be defining public issues of our time in the moment of the last ten years in contemporary South Africa. This is the period of time after Nelson Mandela had stepped down.
Conveying a palpable sense of endings and beginnings, Mandela's term of office was distinctively dramatic, unambiguous. Its brush strokes were firm. Whatever discordance appeared on its radar screen may have been seen but not registered, overwhelmed, as it were, by the numerous blips of various sizes on the rest of the screen, signifying the extent of change underway. Dramatic change of this kind is a marker for epic certitudes. As they tell us how the future will be approached, it is difficult to detect within them the makings of their unfolding. There is a great deal in the moment of the last ten years that tells us a story of unfolding.
The signal for an unfolding comes into full view when the small blip on the radar screen seems to get bigger and bigger. One such small blip, for example, may have been hinted at by Mandela, in a cautionary if ominous statement he made, almost in passing, at the 50th conference of the African National Congress in Mafikeng in December of 1997. "There is a heavy responsibility for a leader elected unopposed," he tipped off, clearly referring to Thabo Mbeki who had just been elected unopposed as President of the ANC. "He may use that powerful position to settle scores with his detractors, to marginalize them or get rid of them and surround himself with yesmen and women.' Why did Mandela utter such a statement?
Coilin Parsons: The Archive in Ruins: James Clarence Mangan and Colonial Cartography
When Edward Said wrote in Orientalism that ‘[g]eography was essentially the material underpinning for knowledge about the Orient’ (Said, 1994: 216) he established the necessity of understanding the intricate relationship between geographical knowledge and imperial conquest. Benedict Anderson, writing about the census, map, and museum as colonial enablers of anti-colonial nationalism, writes that in Southeast Asia in the second half of the nineteenth century military surveyors were ‘on the march to put space under the same surveillance which the census-makers were trying to impose on persons. Triangulation by triangulation, war by war, treaty by treaty, the alignment of map and power proceeded’ (Anderson, 1991: 173). Anderson is careful to suggest that his argument is only applicable to Southeast Asia, but the map historian J.B. Harley generalises, writing that ‘as much as guns and warships, maps have become the weapons of imperialism’ (Harley, 2001: 57), an indictment of mapmaking that has become a commonplace among those who have made the shared history of geography and empire their study.
Nick Shepherd: What’s up with WAC? A story of disillusionment. What’s up with WAC? Archaeology and engagement in the postcolonial postmodern
There is a photograph which serves as a kind of touchstone. It shows Jo Mangi, the dreadlocked delegate from Papua New Guinea holding Peter Ucko’s hand as they attempt to barn dance. The photograph was taken at an evening of “Music, Drama and Dance from All Over the World” held at the Southampton Guildhall in September 1986 as part of the events around WAC1, the first World Archaeological Congress. Both men are smiling, Ucko in a slightly self-conscious way, as they share the joke at this unlikely collaboration in this unlikely setting. As an image, it captures something of the nature of WAC in its foundation, an appealing mix of fun, edginess, iconoclasm, and commitment. A decade and more later it was something of this founding impulse which attracted each of us to the World Archaeological Congress. In different ways we have become closely involved in the workings of the organisation: as a member of the Executive Committee (Shepherd 2003-8), and as a member of Council (Haber dates), as editor-in-chief of the WAC journal Archaeologies, (Shepherd 2003-present), and of the WAC-affiliated journal Arqueología Suramericana (Haber dates), and as members of various sub-committees and working groups.
We began with high expectations of the organisation and of ourselves. We would take the spirit of that unlikely barn dance and translate it into the terms of our own time and place. WAC means different things to different people. For archaeologists from the global south it arguably holds a special importance in that it provides (or it should provide) forms of professional networking outside of the hegemonic lines of disciplinary connection. For each of us there was an added logic to our enthusiasm which came from our respective contexts of work, postapartheid South Africa and post-dictatorship Argentina. Not teargas and bullets, but freedom was in the air. After the isolationism and fear of the past there was a new opening out to the world, and WAC seemed like a logical forum through which to explore this in a disciplinary setting. So what went wrong? Why has our involvement with WAC been such a disappointing, even disillusioning experience? Why do we find ourselves stepping back from our commitments? Why do we find ourselves having to explain and qualify our involvement with the organisation in conversations with friends and colleagues? What’s up with WAC? And what can we do about it?
This is a paper about the gap between a set of expectations – the joy of the dance – and the disappointing reality of organisational involvement. It is a serious attempt to track the changing meanings and contexts of the World Archaeological Context. More than that, it is an attempt to initiate debate in a context in which such debate has been lacking. Various attempts to have this discussion internally have been shut down. One of the characteristics of WAC in recent years has been a kind of anti-intellectualism, in which dissent is interpreted as disloyalty. We came to WAC to ask our hard questions, where else could we take them? The obvious course of action might have been quietly to withdraw as others have done, but a kind of stubbornness keeps us in play. This paper is an attempt to place a set of positions on record, and an invitation to begin an exchange, in the conviction that it is through considered discussion, debate and disagreement, that we best address the complex issue of WAC and its possible futures.
Kylie Thomas: A Crisis in Witnessing: HIV and AIDS and the Photography of Gideon Mendel
This paper has two key threads: it reflects on how photography can be understood as a mode of bearing witness to the experiences of others and it charts a shift in the practice of Gideon Mendel, a South African photojournalist who has been documenting the experiences of people living with HIV and AIDS in Africa since 1993. I argue that Mendel's photographs raise questions about the ways in which AIDS is commodified and inaugurate "a crisis in witnessing". At the same time I consider how photographs place a demand on those who look at them and can open the possibility for identification and recognition. I then turn to an analysis of how Mendel's practice has changed in the wake of the South African government's failure to respond adequately to the epidemic and in response to the work of the activist movement the Treatment Action Campaign. In a series of lengthy court-battles against the state, people living with HIV and AIDS have testified to their own experiences and asserted their Constitutional right to equal citizenship. Testimony and bearing witness are critical aspects of these processes and Mendel's work reflects the intertwining of legal discourse and personal narrative in representations of people living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa since 2000.
Hedley Twidle:‘ The Bushmen’s Letters’ /Xam narratives of the Bleek and Lloyd Collection and their afterlives
In the special collections of the University of Cape Town library are over 150 notebooks filled with columns of Victorian handwriting: phonetic notations of the languages once spoken by southern Africa’s /Xam and !Kung peoples with English translations alongside that run to some 13,000 pages. The record of a unique instance of cross-cultural interaction within the history of the Cape Colony, the Bleek and Lloyd Collection is now recognised as one of the world’s richest ethnographic archives, and the most important textual record of indigenous oral expression on the subcontinent. Indicative of the symbolic charge which this particular culture has come to assume in contemporary South Africa, the national Coat of Arms unveiled by President Thabo Mbeki on 27 April 2000 carries as its motto a sentence written in /Xam, preserving the nineteenth-century orthography of the notebooks to record its various clicks. !ke e:/xarra //ke is officially translated as ‘Unity in Diversity’; glossed more carefully from a language no longer spoken by any living South African, it can be rendered as: ‘people who are different come together’.
The disparate assemblage of texts, correspondence, photographs, watercolour sketches and other material traces that make up the collection resulted from the convergence of two very different groupings of people in late nineteenth-century Cape Town. One was the unorthodox household of the German linguist Wilhelm Bleek, his English wife and sister-in-law Lucy Lloyd; the other was a succession of individuals from four extended families of /Xam-ka !ei, a people descended from one branch of the indigenous inhabitants of southern Africa who had no collective name for themselves, but were known to the Dutch as Bosjemans, to the English as Bushmen, and to the cattle-owning Khoikhoi as Sonqua, Soaqua or San. Like many others drawn into the violence of the colony’s northern frontier, several /Xam men had been displaced from their home and sentenced to hard labour in Cape Town’s Breakwater Prison. Following a request from Bleek to the governor Sir Philip Wodehouse, certain individuals were transferred to the genteel suburb of Mowbray between 1870 and 1884. Here they were received first as convicts on parole, servants and ‘native informants’ for Bleek’s abstruse philological enquiries, yet increasingly as valued teachers, storytellers, artists and (in Lloyd’s phrase) ‘givers of native literature’ (Bleek and Lloyd, Bushman Folklore, p. x).
Jill Weintroub: Structure and science: Dorothea Bleek’s field notebooks and photographs from Sandfontein and Angola, 1920 – 1925
In this chapter I deal with Dorothea Bleek’s research trips to Sandfontein (November 1920 to March 1921 and again from November 1921 to March 1922) and to Angola (1925), and the notebooks, photographs and other material she produced during these excursions. I begin by describing in each case the texture and day-to-day practice of her work in the field as far as this is possible based on information gleaned from both private and public documents and writings remaining in archival collections. Next I situate these research trips in terms of Dorothea Bleek’s intellectual progression and the development of her research process and methodology, and try to suggest what these ideas and practices have brought to the production of knowledge around “bushman” in southern Africa.
Finally, I offer my reading of how these research trips fit into the personal history of Dorothea Bleek, and reflect on the possible ways in which biography may be implicated in the making of knowledge which is later presented as scientific. In so doing, I wish also to address the question whether a biographical reading of a past person’s life, a life narrativised on the basis of documents preserved in the archive, whether such biographical (and chronological) reading closes down the possibility of other readings of the archive of Dorothea Bleek. Other readings would include one that reads the archive of Dorothea Bleek in particular, and its location within the larger Bleek collection, as an archive of violence, disintegration and dispossession perhaps, an archive of domination and colonialism, or maybe even an archive of indigenous knowledge. What are the implications of regarding this as an archive of violence, does that silence that aspect of the archive which speaks to the project of familial loyalty? All of these readings, including the biography, must also confront and address the extent to which Dorothea Bleek’s biography and scholarship, and that of the larger Bleek collection in which her work is located, are implicated in constructions of racial knowledge with respect to the notion “bushman”, an imaginary threaded through with notions of primordialism and racial authenticity which persist into the present.
However, I suggest in my reading that rather than dismiss these research trips because they are steeped in the salvage anthropology and racialised science of their times, that it is possible to offer a more individualised, complex and complicated picture of the way in which knowledge of race was constructed in the early decades of the 20th century. Further, I argue that these mid-career research trips point to a seminal moment in Dorothea Bleek’s intellectual career, in that they mark her transition from research characterised by an informal even anecdotal approach, to embracing systematic and scientific methods of study now being underwritten by state interests.
At the same time, she expressed through her research her own personal feelings about the dangers/evils of modernity and the descent of mankind. These ideas, borne out by an impressive series of field research trips, remain, in my reading, threaded through her scholarship and contribute in important ways to keeping a space open for the construction of “bushman” studies as a discreet field of academic inquiry which persists into the present.
Marlene Winberg: Marks and Maps Imagining the Whole through Its Parts
In 1881, the youngest of the four !kun boys from Damaraland in Namibia, Da, held an almost invisible stick and thong in his one hand when he was being photographed in a Cape Town studio. At the back of the photo Lucy wrote: …He holds in his hand a native play thing, something resembling a shuttlecock, with a little clay weight attached to it. It is thrown up into the air and beaten with a stick.
The sticks are called „djani‟ by contemporary !kun speakers and is a traditional game played by adults and children. Between 1999 and 2006, I collected different versions of the djani stick tale from !kun speakers in the Kalahari, Caprivi and northern Cape. Lorna Marshall collected a version from “!kung” tellers in Nyae-Nyae in the 1950s.1 Antonia de Almeida collected another fragment of a related story from !kun speakers in Angola during the 1960s.2 Here is a short retelling of the well travelled Djani game and Fire Sticks story, parts of which have survived it seems, for a long time.
Long, long ago there was a man named Dima. He had fire and cooked food for himself and his family. The name of the fire was Da. Other people did not have fire and ate their food raw. One day, another man, Hawe, visited Dima‟s camp while he was not there. The children gave him some of their cooked food and he said: “Ahe! What good food! Why is your food so good? “The children replied and said: “Our father makes nice fire. He cooks it for us. We do not eat raw food.”
Hawe came back the next day to eat the nice food. He hid behind a tree for awhile and he saw the children come home with nice roots they had dug. Their father, Dima, went to the place where he hid his firesticks and made a good fire. While twirling he said “good fire will come, good fire will come” Fire did come.
Hawe came to the fire and asked for cooked food. They ate and then Hawe said that they must play the Djani game. He took out his Djani sticks and put a guinea fowl feather on the stick and the little tail. When he tossed it up into the sky, it flew nicely, like a bird. Dima ran after the stick. He tried to hit it with the other djani stick to make it stay up in the sky, but as Hawe cause a little wind to blow, the Djani stick blew further and further away.
Then Hawe returned to the fire and ran away with Dima‟s fire sticks. He blew fire
into all the trees and caused all the trees to have fire in them.
John Wright: Putting Bokoni on the Historian’s Map
This paper consists of a brief set of comments on a workshop entitled ‘East meets South: History and Archaeology in conversation on East and South Africa’ that was held at the University of the Witwatersrand in July 2009. The workshop, together with a preceding excursion to a number of archaeological and historical sites in the Lydenburg-Middelburg region of Mpumalanga province, was organized under the auspices of the Five Hundred Year Initiative (FYI). This is a group of archaeologists and historians based mainly, but not exclusively, in Gauteng, who, since 2006, have been working towards reviving and maintaining conversations between practionerss of the two disciplines in southern Africa. I wrote the paper in response to a request from the organizing committee. It reflects my views on the significance for the study of the ‘late’ precolonial past (i.e. the period from about the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century) in southern Africa of research currently being done by archaeologists and historians in what they are calling the Bokoni region. A selection of papers from the workshop, together with this and other commentaries, will be published later this year in an issue of African Studies edited by PeterDelius and Alex Schoeman.
Sandra Young: Rendering Africaknowable: Early ‘geographies’ and the shaping of ‘Aphrique’ as an object of knowledge
In 1600 John Pory, English writer and the publisher of Leo Africanus’s A Geographical Historie of Africa, acknowledges that part of the point of exploring the rest of the world is to be able to know what constitutes ‘home’. In the ‘Dedication’ Pory characterises early modern ‘geographies’ as leading ‘us the right way home’ and, after taking us all the way around the world, helping us to establish self-identifications:
Wandring vp and downe like Pilgrimes in our owne natiue soile, they bookes haue as it were led us the right way home; that we might at length acknowledge both who and where we are. (John Pory, ‘Dedication’ to Leo Africanus’s A Geographical Historie of Africa, 1600)
What fascinates me about this acknowledgement, written over 400 years ago, is the hope it articulates, that the books of the emergent discipline of ‘geography’ would lead armchair travellers ‘home’ – that is, to a better sense of belonging through reading the scholarly representations of what is identifiably different. In helping ‘us’ know who ‘we’ are and where ‘we’ belong, work of scholarship and knowledge-building, then as now, is deeply implicated in the establishment of identifications and their hierarchies.
In the paper that follows I explore two of the earliest ‘scholarly’ representations of Africa in relation to the emergent discipline of ‘geography’ in the early modern period. In reading the early geographies, my aim is not to look for egregious signs of imperialism as such, but to reflect on the more innocuous strategies of learning and the systems of dominance they establish, in the name of learning. I aim to read closely and skeptically the texts that set up pathways towards what the academy has inherited as disciplinary knowledge, in order to reflect on the place Africa occupied in Europe’s imagination from the inception of ‘geography’, from its role in the earliest mappings of worlds unfamiliar to Europe.