The APC’s first Research Development Workshop of 2021 took place from 5 to 7 May on Zoom, in the aftermath of the Table Mountain fire, and in the midst of efforts to salvage materials from the Jagger Library. The fire, and the questions it has since provoked about archives, loss, the transformation of collections, and scholarly obligations, would be inescapable for this workshop. Holding this in mind, the APC drew upon a photograph taken by APC associate researcher Jo-Anne Duggan of a series of charred remains of books from the collection, using it as a visual point of reference throughout the workshop.
On 30 and 31 March 2021, the APC’s Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA) project participated in the fourth of a series of African Digital Humanities workshops together with its consortium partners, the Digital Bleek and Lloyd, and the Metsemegologolo Project.
Each of the partner projects is committed to the production of archival materials in a digital setting and to the development of pioneering digital research tools. The workshops, the first of which dates back to July 2019, offer opportunities for co-operation, knowledge exchanges, and for constructive critique.
Rachel King’s Outlaws, Anxiety, and Disorder in Southern Africa: Material Histories of the Maloti-Drakensberg, published in 2019 by Palgrave Macmillan, is a proof that, indeed, archaeologists can write excellent history. In little less than 300 pages, King – who presented a draft chapter to the APC Research Development Workshop of March 2018 – leads the reader to the maze of streams, valley bottoms, rocky shelters, and mountain tops of the Maloti Drakensberg, showing us at least seven paths to a distant historical event that, for some time in 1878, seized the headlines in Cape Town: Moorosi’s War, fought by colonial and Lesotho forces against the evanescent leader of the Baputhi, who had “rebelled” and defended his mountain to the very end.
On Thursday 18 March, the APC formally welcomed its new cohort of students and hosted its inaugural event for 2021. The Research Lab, in the format of a lunchtime discussion with APC’s new postdoctoral fellow, Alírio Karina, kicked off the APC’s 2021 Post-Museum research theme. Karina presented an early draft of an essay titled “Notes on an accountable museum”. This paper offered a critical and theoretical analysis of the role of museums in contemporary and past imperial knowledge and power formations. The paper also considered the consequences of this role for questions of accountability and restitution that have gained new prominence over the past few years.