In 2019 a new course called History in Public Life was offered at MA level through the Department of Historical Studies at UCT. Historians Carolyn Hamilton, Cynthia Kros, Adam Mendelsohn, Camalita Naicker and Nompilo Ndlovu developed and taught the course, and fortuitously, despite intellectual differences and distinctive individual approaches came to form a kind of team. There was no strict consensus about what history in public life meant and, in addition we probably all shifted our ideas about its meaning over the duration of the semester with moments of productive dissonance that we made no effort to conceal from the students.
There is an increasingly well-trod path between the APC in the basement of the AC Jordan (Arts) Building and the third floor of the Computer Science Building. Although these buildings are only a few hundred metres apart, the disciplinary distance between them historically has been great. But this is changing. With the emerging field of Digital Humanities, humanities researchers and computer scientists interact on an increasingly frequent basis. Such is the case with the collaboration between Hussein Suleman of the Digital Libraries Laboratory in Computer Science and the Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA) team comprising Carolyn Hamilton, Debra Pryor, Rifqah Kahn and Grant McNulty.
In October 2019 members of the Five Hundred Year Archive team (Carolyn Hamilton, Rifqah Kahn, Grant McNulty and Debra Pryor) travelled to Johannesburg for the second of a series of three Digital Humanities workshops funded by the Mellon Foundation. The workshops, to be held between mid-2019 and mid-2020, are designed to explore the possibility of constituting a supra-institutional information — and technology-sharing consortium between three projects that have a focus on the persistently neglected archive of the long southern African past before European colonialism.
In late October, 2019, the Five Hundred Year Archive project hosted a two-day research visit by their Afridig (African Digital Humanities) partner, Dr. Justine Wintjes, from the KwaZulu-Natal Museum. The visit was part of a larger collaboration designed to explore the possibility of constituting a supra-institutional information- and technology-sharing consortium.