June | August | November

APC Workshop: 9 ­– 11 November 2009

Zuleiga Adams: Demitrios Tsafendas: Race, madness and the apartheid archive

This paper deals with the emergence of an apartheid archive on Demitrios Tsafendas, the man who assassinated Hendrik Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa between 1958 and 1966, and generally regarded as the chief architect of apartheid. The paper forms part of a chapter that deals with two modes of archival production on Tsafendas, which I call respectively the ‘Prison Archive’ and the ‘Commission of Enquiry Archive’. The Prison Archive is a collection of documents that is archived under the Department of Correctional Services in the National Archives in Pretoria.  It documents the thirty-one years that Tsafendas was kept in Pretoria Central Prison, and consists of letters written and received by Tsafendas and details of the administrative aspects of his internment as well as newspaper clippings regarding his treatment in Prison. Both sets of documentation have provided the primary sources for a number of creative projects on Tsafendas. These include a documentary film, four plays and a biographical novel, all of which but two of were produced under post-apartheid conditions, and together, form a kind of secondary archive on Tsafendas.

Jonathan Berndt: The Paris Commune Never Existed

In 2002, Bruno Latour co-curated an exhibition called What is Iconoclash? Or is there a world beyond the image wars? at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe, Germany. This exhibition brought three different types of images togethernamely religious images, art images and scientific images. His reason for doing this was to establish/show how the interaction between these images created tensions that resulted in clashes, i.e. iconoclashs. This paper attempts an interpretation of Latour’s concept and then explores whether it can be used to describe the VendoméColumn, erected in Paris in 1810, as an iconoclash.

Mbongiseni Buthelezi: Being Ndwandwe: Oral art and public history today

It is commonly accepted by historians that the Ndwandwe kingdom was one of the most significant in south-east Africa at the beginning of the nineteenth century. After its collapse in 1826 it receded from prominence in historical accounts of the southern African region to the point of become a mere footnote. In “Rediscovering the Ndwandwe Kingdom” (2008), John Wright accounts for the minute registering of the Ndwandwe kingdom in historical accounts as resulting in part from the absence of narrations of its past by intellectuals attached to the elite after the kingdom’s collapse. He quotes one of James Stuart’s interviewees, Socwatsha kaPhaphu saying in 1921: “In the Zulu kingdom, people did not discuss matters of former times to avoid being put to death. For a person who spoke about these things would be killed. It would be said, ‘Where did you get this from? You will spoil the land with this talking’”. We can link the admission of a lack of knowledge on the Ndwandwe past of almost all the Ndwandwe people I have interviewed to this inability to speak about matters of former times that has lasted until the recent upsurge of the number of groups searching for their pasts.

Collis-Buthelezi, Victoria J: [No title]

O black-skinned epic, epic with the black spear,

I cannot sing you, having too white a heart,

And yet, some day, a poet will rise to sing you,

And sing you with such truth and mellowness

That you will be a match for any song

Sung by old, populous nations in the past,

And stand like hills against the African sky,

And lay your black spear down by Roland’s horn.

                “John Brown’s Body”

                 Stephen Vincent Benét

In 1930, writing in Caliban in Africa, Leonard Barnes suggests that the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union of Africa (ICU) “inchoate in design and fumbling in execution though it may be, is none the less an integral part of [the ‘native’ worker’s] struggle toward the light, a moving and therefore a memorable canto in the Bantu national epic” (103). “John Brown’s Body”, in Caliban in Africa, becomes this ‘Bantu national epic’ and the stanza quoted above, ‘the memorable canto’, the ICU, in that epic. As organised resistance to unequal pay and working conditions, Barnes argues, the ICU signals the maturation of “[the ‘native’s’] manhood”, the ‘some day’ on which the poet arises to vocalise the plight of those downtrodden because of their skin colour. The economic/labour impetus of the trade union is conflated with the poetic and the performative: the trade union as ‘poet’ ‘will rise to sing’ the epic of thwarted black manhood in South Africa.

Harriet Deacon: In Arm’s length: The relationship between research and policy in arts and culture, 1992-2007

Many countries have explicitly moved towards promoting the idea, if not the practice, of evidence-based policy-making, especially in areas like health where the principle of evidence-based medicine has already gained a strong following. While there has been considerable work on the research-policy nexus elsewhere, very little work has looked specifically developing countries and/or at the issue in Africa. Some researchers have suggested that evidence-based policy-making in Africa has been limited by a weak indigenous research base, poor information dissemination and centralized, politically partisan, donor-influenced and elite-oriented policy-making processes in developing country contexts. While this may be true, in South Africa, the research base has been relatively stronger than in the rest of Africa, and the democratic transition of 1994 ushered in a period of intensive national policy-making that was by the 2000s being represented as being transformatory and consultative, while also even-handed, aligned with international best practice, and politically neutral. In many cases, newly-appointed civil servants were tasked with completely overhauling the policy landscape under the leadership of a new group of ministers and deputy ministers. It has been suggested that novelty in the policy landscape and claims for neutrality encourage policy-makers to rely more on research, or invoke it more often, so this period of change provides an opportunity to explore how research has been used for policy-making in South Africa. 

John Higgins: On Representation: Citizenship and Critique in Marx and Said. Why Marx? [Introduction to project]

The challenge of writing a ‘short book’ on Marx for the Routledge Critical Thinkers series is an enormous one.  It means finding a way to present the Marx archive (comprised of Marx’s own voluminous writings and correspondence, as well as some selection from the innumerable commentaries and polemics) for a new generation of readers.

Fortunately, the series title itself offers some enabling perspective – my study will aim to identify and elaborate on the key constituent elements of Marx’s critical thinking in ways that both draw on and help to understand or frame some of his key writings.

At the heart of the study is the presentation of Marx as a public intellectual of his time: this helps us to focus on some of the particularity of his writing, its powerful combination of academic (theoretical, philosophical, social and economic) analysis with public engagement.  Remember that the aim of Capital (the final realized outcome of all ‘that economic shit’ that Marx felt himself forced to immerse himself in for twenty-odd years) was, as he put it on October 4 1864, ‘to deal a theoretical blow to the bourgeoisie from which they will never recover’ (Letters on Capital: 93).  

The first chapter ‘Why Marx?’ aims in the first instance to frame Marx as this public intellectual figure, and therefore to place his writings in and alongside the context of his political activities, and to give some flavour of his situation at the time (and notably the persistent threat of censorship, surveillance and so on which is often absent from purely theoretical or canonical estimates of his life and work.  Secondly, and as a development out of this, it seeks to present Marx’s critical thinking as above all concerned with the politics of representation, and drawing on the resources of theoretical, historical and (long neglected in the canononical/orthodox Marxist accounts) textual analysis for its explanatory and rhetorical power – its force as representation of the standpoint of a working-class vision of the world.  [draft attached?]

The series works through a step-by-step (and usually chronological ) account of the particular thinker’s ‘key ideas’, so there is some constraint/guidance about the development of the argument through the book as a whole.  

Jesmael Mataga: Landscape, Monuments and Heroes: Notes on colonial memory in Rhodesia


This paper presents a preliminary analysis of processes, motives and principles behind settler commemoration in Rhodesia. I argue that the process of memorialisation in Rhodesia was an integral part of legitimating settler authority and creation of a Rhodesian identity.  Manifesting in official events, personal and group reminiscences, sites and monuments, colonial commemoration aimed at fostering settler nationalism, modernity and claim to the landscape. The process entailed appropriation of physical and symbolic value of rural and urban landscape along with creation and re-enactment of new forms of commemoration.  New sites of memory are seen as crucial to creating a distinct colonial identity. Three themes emerge. Firstly there is a strong link between land and memorialisation, secondly is the centrality of the process of the founding of the colony i.e. Rhodes, the British South Africa Co. (BSAC) and the pioneer settlers and thirdly, colonial memory’s interface with post-independence nationalism and identity. Using Nora’s concept of lieux de memoire (sites of memory) as physical, spatial, symbolic and functional spaces for constructing self gives an analysis of events and figures in colonial Zimbabwe, but rather to explore how certain events, figures and spaces were imagined, interpreted, enacted and invoked.

Grant McNulty: New Insights on the Ulwazi Programme


In post-apartheid South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) government’s efforts to create a more inclusive heritage and to address past imbalances have contributed significantly to the reshaping of the South African heritage landscape, entailing the revision and restructuring of old museums, heritage sites and institutions. These political and institutional changes have also generated new sites. One such site is the Ulwazi Programme (UP), an online archival initiative that has been set up by the Ethekwini Municipal Library to provide opportunities for communities actively to record and share their contemporary history and culture using Web 2.0 technologies. This research focuses on the programme as an element of continued transition in South Africa.

The research approach calls for a detailed understanding of the workings of the UP and the materials it produces. This requires insight into the establishment of the programme, its aims, politics, priorities and processes, an appreciation of who participates, how they do so and of what is collected by the UP.

Litheko Modisane: Film, Archive and the Public Sphere

My research has shown that film has public lives. The totality of the events and engagements in the films’ circulation across time and space constitute the public life of film. Two phases can be discerned which represent to the public life of many films. The first phase flows from the general conventional rituals accompanying the inception of a film such as previews, and interviews. This phase is inclusive of the ensuing circulation of film in video formats. Thus, thanks to the interventionist actions by filmmakers and the media, as well as the circumstances around the circulation of a film, a great deal of publicness around films unfolds. The second phase of a film’s public life is archival. Here, films become archived, losing as it were, the public currency afforded by their initial circulation. However, this paper will show that the archival phase is itself part of film’s public life. It does this through a discussion of the archival phase of the public lives of two black-centred anti-apartheid films, Come Back, Africa, and Mapantsula made in 1959 and 1988 respectively, from the late apartheid to the post-apartheid periods. 

CóilínParsons: A Full Face Portrait of the Land

This chapter follows a theoretical introduction on the question of colonial mapping, Ireland’s status as a colony, and the relationship between maps and literature. It is succeeded by 3 chapters on how the OS archive is re-imagined in Anglo-Irish literature. I concentrate mostly on J.C. Mangan and Samuel Ferguson (two poets and critics who were involved in the work of the survey), J.M. Synge (a playwright who was well-read in the archive) and W.B. Yeats (whose plays are a cartography of ruins).

Nick Shepherd: Adam Blowing-in-the-Wind: ‘When the hand that holds the trowel is black…’

Secret History

The secret history of archaeology in Africa is the history of “native” labour. It is the story of those men (and they were almost always men) who dug, sieved, sorted, located sites and “finds”, fetched and carried, pitched camp, cooked and served food, negotiated with local chiefs and suppliers, and assisted in the interpretation of artefacts and events, but who remain unsung and unremembered in official tellings of the development of the discipline. In many cases they were and are skilled practitioners: not Archaeologists, or even “archaeologists” (for such is the politics of naming in the sciences), but something else, field-hands, or assistants, or more usually just “boys”. In almost all cases they were and are far more directly related to the remains which they disinterred, to the hand that made the pot or the bones in the grave - whether on grounds on culture, tradition, history, lineal descent, or whatever - than the archaeologist on whose behalf they laboured. Yet, in the ironised contexts of the construction of archaeological knowledge in the colonies and former colonies (and the essential tenor of this enterprise is that of irony), they are almost never referred to, or are referred to in passing or with contempt.

Kylie Thomas: Mourning the Present

We have shown the unmistakable tendency to push death aside, to eliminate it from life.

Sigmund Freud’

In her book Auschwitz and After (1990), Charlotte Delbo, herself a survivor of Auschwitz, relates an account told to her of the massacre by German soldiers of all the men of the village of Kalavrita in Greece in 1943. She describes how the women of the village stood above the ravine in which the bodies of the dead men lay and discussed how it would be possible to bury the thirteen hundred dead. I cite it at length because of what it suggests about how to think about mourning and mass death:

When all the women arrived above the ravine, they came to a halt and stayed standing there. Without moving. Mute. What was to be done? What were they to do? For the dead of the ordinary sort one knows what to do. But for these ... this enormous pile of dead. This huge heap.


Then someone said: "First we must ready them for burial. After that we will have to bury them."

Laying out a body for burial, everyone knows about that.

As for the burying itself ...

The gravedigger was there, dead with the others.

And what gravedigger has ever buried thirteen hundred dead all at once? Who could dig thirteen hundred graves in a single day, particularly in our stony soil?

And the coffins? The carpenter was there, dead with the others.

What carpenter could build thirteen hundred coffins in a day? He'd never have the materials for thirteen hundred coffins. What carpenter ever stocks enough wood for thirteen hundred coffins all at once?

The carpenter, the smith, the farrier, the miller, the wheelwright, the woodcutter, they were all there, dead with the others.

And where would you bury them? There wasn't room enough in the cemetery for thirteen hundred graves. A cemetery is something that grows little by little over the years.

We couldn't just leave them there.

We didn't know how to bury them.

And it was as though they were dying a second time, by being there dead, deprived of the respects that are due to the dead.1 2

1 “Timely Reflections on War and Death”, first published in 1915 as “Zeiigemasses Uber Krieg und

Tod', see Freud (2005:183).

"For the dead of the ordinary sort one knows what to do", Delbo writes, but what can be made of thirteen hundred deaths on a single day? And what of the same number dead, as is the case in South Africa now, each day of the year? Delbo's description of how traditional burial practices are rendered impossible (the carpenter, blacksmith, priest, gravedigger and stonecutter are all dead) reveals how the ritual practices of mourning are intimately related to the constitution of community. The process of mourning is one of remembering the past through marking the relation between the living and the dead. In this sense mourning is also futural; the ways in which we mourn, the ritual practices of mourning, play a central part in imagining life beyond tire dead, the after-life of community that is formed through the relation between the living and (lie dead. In Delbo's account the loss of those individuals who would have made possible the burying of the dead signifies the loss of the "ordinary sort" of death, the loss of loss itself.

Jill Weintroub: A Life Like Any Other: A partial reading of Dorothea Bleek’s archive and scholarship

The past is history, and what is history but a story made of air that we tell ourselves?


My epigraph is taken from a passage in the JM Coetzee novel in which the protagonist weighs up the past against the present. The discussion posits the past as a successful assemblage of “thousands and millions of individual fictions … created by individual human beings” into a coherent, shared story; the future, in contrast, is a “sketchy, bloodless” fiction, as if the effort of creating the past seems to have exhausted the collective creative energies of humans.

The foregoing makes a suggestive counterpoint to the invocation of archive in Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land, where the fragmentary possibilities of archive are run, like the ghostly presence of the elusive slave of MS H.6, like a fraying thread through the novel’s proceedings. Ghosh’s project is to elucidate the ability of archive, across the ages, to privilege the “literate and the consequential, the wazirs and the sultans, the chroniclers and the priests – the people who had the power to inscribe themselves physically upon time”. For Ghosh, the fleeting presence of the slave is nothing less than a miracle, given the “barely discernible traces that ordinary people leave upon the world”.

The back cover of Ghosh’s book describes In an Antique Land as a “magical, intimate biography of the private life of a country” (my emphasis). The relationship between writing, biography and history will be the focus of this paper. The incantations above of the past as coherent, shared fiction, on one hand, or elusive fleeting presence on the other, may provide fruitful counterpoints – the project of writing the past is perhaps an exercise which draws on both.


Fieldworker, rock art scholar, linguist, ethnographer – the materials recorded and/or collected by Dorothea Bleek and now preserved in UCT’s celebrated Bleek collection, suggest that she could fall into all (or none) of these categories. Be that as it may, the documents remain as testimony to a life dedicated to research among people whom she herself described as a “child race”. Throughout her adult life in the course of research and fieldwork stretching geographically from the northern Cape through Nambia, the Kalahari, Angola and Botswana, Dorothea Bleek collected language samples and gathered examples of rock art, cultural performance, artefact and daily life of “bushman” groups in various regions of southern Africa. She took hundreds of photographs, and in some instances, made gramophone recordings. She also dug up graves, assisted in a project to make life casts of “pure racial types” identified on the basis of pre-determined physical attributes, and produced photographic images of naked “bushman” bodies.

My larger PhD research deals with the life and scholarship of Dorothea Bleek. It tries to understand why there appears to be a silence around the contribution and presence of Dorothea Bleek in the recorded histories of academic institutions and research in South Africa, despite the fact that her linguistic research is regularly drawn upon. It moreover attempts to understand why the archive and scholarship of Dorothea Bleek, the residue of her life, and indeed the Bleek-Lloyd collection as a whole, remains contested territory in the post-apartheid, postcolonial moment. In light of the foregoing, how can one best address Dorothea Bleek’s archive?

John Wright: Thinking beyond ‘tribal traditions’: Reflections on the precolonial archive

Oral portrayals of the past as made in precolonial societies in southern Africa have very often been seen as ‘tribal traditions’, a perspective which obscures the historical processes in which historical narratives were made in these societies. Academic historiographers have so far taken little notice of a body of documentary sources, published and unpublished, which, if read in certain ways, can provide us with new insights on how histories were made in ‘late’ precolonial times in South Africa. This article seeks to identify the main categories of sources and to outline the political and social circumstances in which they were produced and which gave them shape. By way of example, it briefly examines three colonial-made texts for indications of how they can be approached for information on the making of pasts in precolonial societies.

Carine Zaayman: Crowhurst’s Complaint*: A reader’s advance on Lady Anne Barnard’s journals and letters


This paper presents an exploration of the available literature on Lady Anne Barnard, née Lindsay (1750-1825). Although born in Scotland (more precisely, Fifeshire, close to Edinburgh), where she lived for most of her childhood, she later made her home in London among some of the rich and influential people of the day. My particular interest in her life is for the period 1798-1802, during which she lived at the Cape as the wife of the Colonial Secretary, Andrew Barnard.1 In this paper, I approach the material on Lady Anne Barnard in a somewhat circumspect manner, that is, I do not wish to employ a reading of the literature to reconstructa concise biography (the details of which are plentiful and easily accessible to the contemporary reader). Instead, I want to explore the complexities and challenges presented by her archive, despite its seeming readiness to yield factual information.

APC Workshop: 31 August – 2 September 2009

Jon Berndt: A Point of Departure

An imaginary is “An interrelated set of signs that present themselves, in every instance, as an indisputable and undisputed meaning”. The imaginary is a nothingness, it has no material form but functions by directing consciousness at what is not there (not present). At times it takes on matter as an image, as in the logos or emblems that groups or organisations make to define themselves. These logos often draw on visual traditions that define points of engagement in a war of images, a battle over meaning, or an iconic clash. This is an attempt to delve into the visual archive of the left with a focus on these clashes to unmask their irreality and their relationship to the imagination.

Key to the whole endeavour of this work is the connection between the imagination and the concepts of internationalism, freedom and emancipation that since the 19th century have been imagined as universal human potentialities. These concepts coincide with the rise of the modern era and lock tightly with the epistemology of modernism. 

Mbongiseni Buthelezi: Remembering Zwide kaLanga: A Search for post-Zulu Futures in KZN

This past weekend the premier of Gauteng, Nomvula Mokonyane (ned Mkhize) went back to her roots. On Sunday 23 August 2009 she visited the sites of her ancestors’ graves in Jacob Zuma’s home town of Nkandia. Her trip dovetails with the larger Mkhize kinship group project of recovering its history and recreating an Mkhize ubukhosi (chiefdom) that will co-exist with the Zulu kingdom. The Mkhize have convened a movement called uBumbano IwabaMbo as a vehicle for realising the search for their past as well as their present unity aspirations.1 Even the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Zweli Mkhize, is a part of this movement. Being a wily politician, Mkhize is careful to recall the relations between the Mkhize and the Zulu as having been cordial during Shaka’s reign. However, the Mkhize are not the only group rediscovering its past. The Nhlangwini, Dladla, Buthelezi, Mpungose, Ndwandwe and many others, have been gathering over the past two decades to talk about matters that affect them as izizwe (’nations’). Some have been strident and others muted in their calls for the reconstruction of their chiefdoms that existed before they were incorporated into the Zulu kingdom in the early nineteenth century. Of these groups, I have been studying the Ndwandwe for the past few years.

Harriet Deacon: At Arm’s Length: The relationship between research and policy in arts and culture, 1992-2007

Many countries have explicitly moved towards promoting the idea, if not the practice, of evidence-based policy-making, especially in areas like health where the principle of evidence-based medicine has already gained a strong following. While there has been considerable work on the research-policy nexus elsewhere, very little work has looked specifically developing countries and/or at the issue in Africa. Some researchers have suggested that evidence-based policy-making in Africa has been limited by a weak indigenous research base, poor information dissemination and centralized, politically partisan, donor-influenced and elite-oriented policy-making processes in developing country contexts. While this may be true, in South Africa, the research base has been relatively stronger than in the rest of Africa, and the democratic transition of 1994 ushered in a period of intensive national policy-making that was by the 2000s being represented as being transformatory and consultative, while also even-handed, aligned with international best practice, and politically neutral. In many cases, newly-appointed civil servants were tasked with completely overhauling the policy landscape under the leadership of a new group of ministers and deputy ministers. It has been suggested that novelty in the policy landscape and claims for neutrality encourage policy-makers to rely more on research, or invoke it more often, so this period of change provides an opportunity to explore how research has been used for policy-making in South Africa. 

Carolyn Hamilton: The Public Life of an Archive:Archival biography as methodology

In postcolonies engagement with the precolonial past is often a project of contemporary redemption, a way of rethinking the denigrations imposed by the dominant colonial (and in South Africa’s case, apartheid) knowledge project, most notably that of scientific racism. The colonial archive was the locus of its evidentiary basis, and is thus regarded today as profoundly contaminated.

Skilled historians, attentive to the bias of any archive, mine even the most toxic of archives for rare nuggets of fact, while social historians in particular have understood well that the archives of those in power can be used to provide evidence of the powerless. They specialise in reading such archives against the grain, using, for example, police archives, as sources for the social lives of the underclasses criminalised because of their conditions of poverty. Historical anthropologists conduct ethnographic enquiries in such archives, seeking evidence of incidentally recorded verbal and gestural tropes, descriptions of customs, dress and architecture and other details of past every day lives to reveal something of the consciousness of the people being colonised. These are well-established methods for the finding of elusive, hidden, latent, recondite, or unexpected materials within larger collections of things.  They are methods based on a view of archives as things.

Daniel Herwitz: Introduction: The Heritage of Heritage (and how I entered it)

I grew up near Lexington, Massachusetts, by the rude bridge that arched the flood where the flag was unfurled by the farmer who fired the shot. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s hymn, unfurled at the completion of the Battle Monument, April 19,1836, is a paean:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,

Here once the embattled farmers stood,

And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;

Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;

And Time the ruined bridge has swept

Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,

We set to-day a votive stone;

That memory may their deed redeem,

When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,

To die, and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee.

We recited these verses like little tin soldiers, standing proud before the monument that marked the deed as the stars and stripes were hoisted to the tip of the long white flagpole. Each morning we assembled in the school auditorium to recite the Lord's Prayer, on Thanksgivings we gathered together to ask the Lord’s blessing who hastened and chastened his will to make known. Standing in my blue blazer with the school’s monogram ironed onto its front pocket, hair brushed stiff and fingernails clean, 1 had arrived: the final episode in a long immigrant's story of arrival, a Jew’s blending into story book America.

John Higgins: Collection of papers on academic freedom/higher education policy;

  • Reality versus Ideal in the Boycott Debate
  • The Scholar-Warrior versus the Children of Mao: Conor Cruise O'Brien in South Africa
  • Academic Freedom in the New South Africa
  • It’s literacy, stupid!’: Declining the Humanities in NRF Research Policy
  • Managing Meaning: the constitutive contradictions of institutional culture
  • Institutional culture as Whiteness: ‘a complex argument’

Saarah Jappie: From the Madrassah to the Museum: The evolution of Islamic manuscript use in Cape Town

“Even though from a theoretical point of view human actors encode things with significance, from a methodological point of view it is the things-in-motion that illuminate their human and social context” 

Ebrahiem Manuel sits opposite me, about to embark upon his ‘story’. His living room is filled with material manifestations of his research: boxes overflowing with books and papers cover his entire sofa, newspapers and articles line the floor and collages of images and texts about his ‘story’ hang on the walls and sit in the cabinets. The displays extend haphazardly throughout the house, culminating in his private museum in the back room. Aside from the displays, his house is very simple and somewhat bare. It is clear that he is consumed by his passion for heritage, and his personal journey of discovery. He speaks in an animated, almost theatrical tone, raising and lowering his voice, stressing certain syllables, alive as he tells his story of ‘the ancient kietaabs’. 

Brown Bavusile Maaba:  Liberation in South Africa: The archive in context

The liberation of South Africa in the late twentieth century is a key historical process, about which writers continue to write about.  This thesis does not attempt to say anything new on the history of the liberation struggle as such, or to survey that complex history, but focuses rather on the archive relating to the struggle. It seeks to put that archive in context, by discussing how it has been formed and to assess its strengths and limitations, and to explain how it has helped shape the writing of the history of the struggle to date and how it may affect such writing in future. 

The `archive’ of the liberation struggle will be defined very broadly. It will be taken to include documentary archival collections as well as oral histories and digitised material. The thesis will include a number of case-studies of such collections and histories, based on work already done on the history of, inter alia, Somafco in Tanzania,  the Black Consciousness Movement and the Pan-Africanist Congress. Examples will be given of the kind of archival material used for such studies, and an assessment made of its strengths and limitations. 

Robert MacDonald: [Introduction of Thesis]

After the suburb of District Six in Cape Town was declared a ‘whites only’ area by South Africa’s National Party Government (in 1966), the scale and complexity of its construction in discourse has increased in approximately inverse proportion to the settlement’s physical disappearance. During the years of its demolition, an estimated 60 000 District Six residents were forced by the state to move to the peripheries of Cape Town’s main urban region, and the area has been vacant since the late 1970s (save for a handful of isolated religious and residential buildings, and two dozen new houses). At the same time discourse on this series of events has grown to comprise 200 individual fiction and non-fiction publications, hundreds of newspaper articles and radio reports, the construction of a museum (the District Six Museum, in 1994), ongoing and heated debates in various community and government forums, mass political rallies and high profile government ceremonies to hand over newly built homes to former residents. 

From 1995, a year after the first democratic elections in South Africa, a Land Restitution project was initiated (as announced in the Government Gazette of September 1995) to return displaced former residents of District Six to the site, part of a nation wide land restitution process guided by the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994. But the project stalled amid complex community politics, funding shortages and a breakdown of legal processes. Fifteen years since democracy officially began in South Africa, and 14 years since District Six was declared a restitution site, the project has only seen 24 houses rebuilt and handed to claimants in District Six. 

This thesis analyses the interaction between, on the one hand, community identity in District Six, which has been circumscribed by a complex of discourses linked to the site’s history of exploitation, forced removals and liberation politics, and, on the other the political and legal discourses of post-apartheid South Africa guiding the District Six restitution process. I argue that local community identity related to the liberation struggle, has, in this case, proven to be incompatible on a number of levels with constitutional and state processes. The points of friction between the two provide key insights into some of the challenges that identity politics in post-apartheid South Africa pose to the basic principles of political liberalism underpinning the new constitutional order. 

Grant McNulty: New Heritage Sites, New Expressions of Identity: Digital community archives in postapartheid Mbumbulu, KwaZulu-Natal


Questions of memory, the past and heritage are frequently intertwined with issues of identity and the politics thereof.' Memory, history and archive are some of the resources that are available for the construction of identity and memory institutions such as archival spaces, monuments, heritage sites and museums contribute to a society’s memory, offering props for the concretion of identity. In a postapartheid setting, the new African National Congress (ANC) government's efforts to create a new national identity, a more inclusive heritage and to address past imbalances have contributed significantly to the reshaping of the South African heritage landscape, entailing the revision and restructuring of old museums, heritage sites and institutions. These political and institutional changes have also generated new sites. The focus of this study is one such site, the Ulwazi Project (UP), an online archival initiative that has been set up by the Ethekwini Municipal Library to provide opportunities for communities actively to record and share their contemporary history and culture using Web 2.0 technologies.

Gerrit Olivier: Memories of the Future

Imagining the land in selected Afrikaans texts

My current research project started with a curiosity about what appeared to be a recent trend in Afrikaans literature: novels about the future. I was particularly interested in Jaco Botha’s Miskruier (Dung Beetle, 2005) and Eben Venter’s Horrelpoot (2006; translated as Trencherman, 2008) because both these novels, each flawed in different ways, suggested a range of themes for further exploration. I soon realised that configuring the meaning of these novels would lead me into a more comprehensive analysis of their predecessors, as well as of the way in which land, the possession and loss thereof, was intimately linked with the themes of identity, destiny and fate.

I offer no more than some provisional notes and observations and beg the reader’s indulgence for the intuitive and perhaps rambling nature of this piece. I am still in an early phase of mapping out the terrain and am therefore also grappling with what the appropriate relationship in my planned monograph will be between close textual analysis, generalisations across a substantial body of literature, and more speculative attempts at explanation. The provisional scheme is to start with the interpretative problems highlighted by Botha’s and Venter’s texts and then do a comparative analysis between these texts and Karel Schoeman’s Na die geliefde land (1972; translated as Promised Land, 1978). This, I hope, will provide me with a solid base for identifying a number of larger issues that seem to be constants in Afrikaans literature. 

Nick Shepherd: The Uncreated Man: A story of archaeology and imagination

The Uncreated Man: A story of archaeology and imagination

Prologue: archaeology and imagination

What is the place of imagination in archaeology? On the one hand, the territory of the discipline presents a rich array of possibilities for the exercise of imagination. On the other hand, precisely because it invites imagination, the discipline has tended to proceed on the basis of its disavowal. “Imagination” has emerged as a key term in defining disciplinary boundaries. It has been assigned to space outside the discipline, a demoted realm of speculative fiction and “alternative archaeologies”. In this version of the discipline, where imagination is, we might say, archaeology is not. Or, as the South African archaeologist John Goodwin put it in his textbook, Method in Prehistory (1947): “Legitimate deduction and logical reasoning are the materials of which the discipline is made…” (and even in this supposedly simple statement, the double positives “legitimate deduction… logical reasoning” open the space for a series of questions).

Can we trust such a neat distinction between reason and imagination in archaeological method? Is it desirable, or even possible, to construct knowledge of human pasts in the absence of imagination? What kind of impoverishment of archaeological method might this entail? Can any science proceed on the basis of a stricture placed on imagination? One form of the question that we might ask of the relation between archaeology and imagination is: What happens to imagination in the process of the production of archaeological knowledge? Another form of the question might be: What can we learn about the nature of the disciplinary discourse from the place (the non-place) of imagination?

Pippa Skotnes

F U G I T I V E  A R C H I V E

A  R E S P O N S E  TO  T H E  ‘ B U S H M A N  D I O R A M A’

Of all exhibits in museums in Cape Town (possibly anywhere in South Africa) the South African Museum diorama has generated more debate and argument, as well as pleasure and interest, than any other. This compelling view into a world where men and women lived at peace in the early-colonial landscape, has been the site of expansive and imaginative discussions by tour guides and public about the shape and nature of the San, their relationship to their environment and to human origins (Ross 1994, Davison 1993). At the centre of the diorama a man stood poised – the hunter – bow in hand, alert, ready to aim his arrow.

Around him twelve painted plaster body casts of men and women, sitting or lying, made up, as the label described, a typical campsite of the 19th century. In the background was an evocatively painted Karoo landscape at dawn or dusk. The diorama drew on an archive – indeed is a powerful representative of an archive – an ineffable archive of the popular image of the Bushmen, assembled from the fantasises of writers and filmmakers, mystics, scientists and museologists all of whom helped create of the Bushmen an analogue of humanity at its origins. As a truth, the diorama seemed more real by being, almost entirely, made-up.

Kylie Thomas: Photography and Disappearance

In June 2001 the online journal The Digital Journalist released a special issue commemorating photography’s role in documenting the HIV and AIDS epidemic over the course of twenty years. The issue includes interviews with many of the leading photographers in the field as well as reproductions of images that provide fascinating insight into how photography has shaped public perception of HIV and AIDS. South African photojournalist Gideon Mendel is one of several photographers who relate how their work has in turn been shaped by the epidemic: 

In 1993, I was part of a group project called “Positive Lives,” organized by my photo agency, Network, in which photographers responded to AIDS in the U.K. My first exposure to the issue was photographing in an AIDS ward in London. I found the situation different than any I’d ever experienced as a photojournalist. It was only 10 percent photography and 90 percent communication and connection with people, dealing with issues of confidentiality, considering how people should be projected, being sensitive not to portray people as victims. That same year, I made contact with a mission hospital in Zimbabwe and I photographed there. I felt that as an African photographer I needed to find a way to respond to the AIDS crisis which was clearly developing in Africa at that time. So that essay, looking at one remote hospital in an area where more than 25 percent of pregnant women were testing HIV-positive, was the beginning of my work on HIV and AIDS in Africa. (Mendel, 2001)

Marlene Winberg: Who were the !kun boys, |uma and Da, !nanni and Tamme?

This chapter of my thesis has three main intentions; firstly, to excavate from the archive and from any other germane sources, everything I can about the Ikun boys in the Bleek and Lloyd archive.

Secondly, I wish to recreate a sense of the children’s lives and to re-member the oldest boy, Inanni’s story in fair depth, while presenting short sketches of the other four boys’ stories.

My third intention is to explore the themes that emerge from the archive. I focus, in particular, on the theme of loss that so deeply permeates the collection. I will explore this in relation to the narratives and artwork.

In the conclusion of the chapter, I take a brief look at the story from a contemporary perspective.

Carine Zaayman: A storm raged while she died: tracing Krotoa in selected retellings of her life story

For this paper, I set out to provide a literature review of available material on Krotoa. This task, however, did not take shape as a simple process: tracing a line of references and writing them up. Working with the material on Krotoa is somewhat alike to finding oneself in a storm – one cannot even start without becoming caught in the complex tangles of claims and counter claims for the fraught legacy of Krotoa. Natasha Distiller and Meg Samuelson’s article “’Denying the coloured mother’: Gender and race in South Africa” (2007) brings this into sharp focus. The authors investigate the ways in which Krotoa’s story has since the 1950s been used to make statements regarding the ‘origin’ of white Afrikaans‐speaking people, as well as the construction of ‘coloured’ identity in a racially stratified country. As central reference, Distiller and Samuelson point to the work of Marie Kathleen Jeffreys, a white archivist who wrote extensively on slavery and origins within the South African society in early apartheid South Africa. After she discovered her own ‘mixed‐race’ origins, she wrote a series of essays for Drum magazine, in which she challenges the notion of separateness of the races, and places Krotoa as the mother figure to all South Africans:

In the face of the all‐too‐often despised status of this Khoikhoi woman, whose people were to be in part amalgamated into the group classified "coloured", Jeffreys calls her "a South African girl", who married "a European man", thus allowing the marriage to represent the founding moment of the future "interracial" nation Jeffreys already recognizes as one nation (Distiller and Samuelson 2007).

APC Workshop: 8 – 10 June 2009

Harriet Deacon: The Ethics of Archive: The colonial anthropology of traditional male circumcision and public health programming today

A number of traditional cultural practices impact on health, positively or negatively. One example is male circumcision, which on the one hand is being promoted as a public health intervention to reduce HIV risk, while on the other hand there are concerns about the safety of traditional male circumcision practice and attempts to regulate it. Historians can play an important role in documenting the history of cultural practices that impact on health, because this information can inform public health interventions.

With the assistance of Kirsten Thomson I have recently been documenting reported changes in traditional male circumcision practice using anthropological and other secondary literature as part of a literature review for the AIDS and Society Research Unit at the University of Cape Town (UCT). This process takes place within a number of challenging methodological contexts which will be discussed in the paper. First, there is a broader ambivalence in the political domain about the notion of traditional culture, while in the biomedical literature culture is often seen as a barrier to health. Second, there are methodological and ethical problems with the data generated by anthropologists and others in the past on a topic that is sensitive and usually secret. Third, there are ethical questions to be asked about the role of the outsider in researching such a topic today.

Mbongiseni Buthelezi: Praise, politics, performance: From Zulu izibongo to the Zionists

As South Africa hurtled towards its third national democratic election in 2009 an old anti­apartheid struggle song jostled with poetry and songs from the long oral tradition to bolster public images of politicians. At rallies the leader of the largest political party led supporters in singing ‘Umshini wami’ (‘My machine [gun]’), a song with a long career in the underground camps of the liberation struggle. The song was imbued with new meanings and sung with relish by those seeking to voice popular dissatisfaction with the perceived failures of the state and of political leadership (Gunner 2009: 28, 30). The same song had in the preceding months been transformed into countless cellular telephone ringtones by entrepreneurs seeing a popular cultural phenomenon out of which to score sales. Sound and video clips of singing crowds were also heard and seen on radio and television. At the same time debate raged under trees, in offices, on numerous blogs, news websites, and on radio and television talk shows about the public uses of a song with an illustrious history of galvanising fighters for justice by a politician whose post­liberation character was allegedly dubious. To add to the maelstrom of reinvented cultural idioms and symbols, some of the politicians were being lauded in praise poetry, izibongo, and songs in the maskanda genre performed at live concerts. The poetry and music were recorded and disseminated through fast-selling compact discs. The same compact discs were simultaneously being illegally reproduced on isolated computers and the songs and poetry circulated via cellular phones in even the remotest parts of South Africa.

Carolyn Hamilton: Why Archive Matters


The past is the object of continual public, political and academic attention, but does "archive” -that which Is somehow designated as what attests to the past - matter to anyone other than the historical researcher? And if it does, in what ways does it matter and to whom? This essay lays out the background to, and the rationale for, the focus in this volume on the way in which identity and archive are deliberated on in the public domain. It is a rationale based on four propositions. The first two are familiar and general in nature; the second two propositions focus in on archive.

John Higgins: Marx the Archive

Saraah Jappie: Text, Ritual, Memory: Imaginings of Malayness in Cape Town

Cheryl Joseph: [Honours Research Proposal]

Clive Kellner: Local Inheritance (Post) Colonial Legacy: Modalities of vernacular modernity in post apartheid visual arts collecting: Toward a 21st century (South) African museum

The formation of a South African art history continues to be contested terrain. Who owns the act of looking? Is it restricted? Controlled? With who rests the notion of authority? The history of South Africa embodies a mutable identity that is disruptive, racially configured and politically motivated. The way that history has been told is undone - truth is relative, facts change, governments fall. It is in this context that the re-writing of South African art history is taking place as new voices emerge, archives are revaluated and old things become new.

This proposal begins to look at the changing role and meaning of private philanthropy in a South African context from the earliest inception of a public museum, the South African National Gallery’s initial bequest of 45 paintings presented in 1871 by Thomas Butterworth Bayley and slightly later to that of Lady Florence Phillips’s donation of seven oils paintings, a Rodin sculpture and her lace collection in 1910 for the purposes of a gallery of modern and industrial art for the citizens of the then town of Johannesburg. In both instances the collection and collector precede the establishment of a public museum. Bequeaths such as Thomas Butterworth Bayley and Lady Florence Phillips were altruistic to some degree but rather more significantly attest to the colonial legacy of the ruling elite who saw the establishment of European art collections in South Africa at the turn of the 19th century as an extension of the colonizing procedure of Western culture on the colony, (here I will refer to Jillian Carman and Michael Stevenson). During apartheid, South Africa's art museums continued to reflect the separatist ideologies of the ruling Nationalist government. It was only in 1940 when for the first time in the history of South Africa, an art museum collected the work of a black artist, Gerard Sekoto’s, 'Yellow Houses', a significant painting from the artist’s Sophiatown period. However it was not for another forty years before public art museums in South Africa, including the Johannesburg Art Gallery were to collect the work of black South African artists with the acquisition of 'traditional southern African' objects in the late 1980's consisting of the Lowen collection.

Jesmael Mataga: Museums and Cultural Heritage:  Policy and practice in colonial and postcolonial Zimbabwe (1901- 2000)

While the origin of museums can be traced back to Alexandria in ancient Egypt (Alexander

1982), the development of the modem museum in contemporary Africa was largely a product of the colonial process. Many of the museum collections were founded during the colonial period by white communities whose desire for collection was largely driven by their curiosity towards African cultures. Therefore from its origin the African museum in colonial Africa developed along racial lines. With time museums evolved into elitist institutions which were influenced by the colonial political, social and cultural prejudices leading to alienation of the local African populace. After independence the museum in Africa continues to face the challenge of relevancy among the local populations. This study will explore the colonial legacy, with which postcolonial museums must engage and the ambiguities and tensions of the postcolonial situation. It seeks to place the museum in the colonial and postcolonial contexts as an important vehicle for the production of collective memory. It will highlight the relationship between museums, identity and the politics of memory in colonial and post-colonial societies as well as the political and economic conditions under which museums operate. Focus will be on the parastatal governing museums in Zimbabwe, the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ). The in-depth study will be concentrated on its two major museums in Zimbabwe namely, Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences (formerly Queen Victoria Museum) and the Bulawayo Natural History Museum (formerly Rhodesian National Museum).

Grant McNulty: New institutions, new expressions: Postapartheid identities in contemporary Mbumbulu

Traditionally, white academics and more especially the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), have constructed particular notions of Zulu identity. Important political shifts in South Africa culminated in the ascendancy to power of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1994. The party’s advancement of a government of national unity and a new reconciliatory South African identity threatened the IFP’s separatist political aims and the traditional, static and militaristic Zulu ethnic identity it promoted in both Zulu cultural museums and the political arena. The ANC’s postapartheid efforts to create a more inclusive heritage and to address past imbalances established during the colonial and apartheid eras contributed significantly to the reshaping of the South African heritage landscape, which entailed the revision and restructuring of old museums, heritage sites and institutions, and the creation of new ones.

These institutional changes have generated new sites for the production of identity including the Ulwazi Project, an online archival initiative that has been set up by the Durban Municipal Library to facilitate local community information access and using Web 2.0 technologies, provide opportunities for communities to actively record and share their contemporary history and culture. This is realised through local digital archives, created and developed by the communities, and shared through an online Wiki.

Archival endeavours cannot be disassociated from questions of power and the Ulwazi Project offers a new axis of power that engages previous archival efforts and social memory in the fieldsite, Mbumbulu, KwaZulu-Natal. By focusing on the project as a postapartheid archival initiative born of changed political and institutional settings, the research will investigate how a project of this nature operates with reference to local contexts in Mbumbulu and the wider heritage field of KwaZulu-Natal, and how the forms of identity expressed through the project relate to established ideas of Zuluness

A study of the Ulwazi Project as a new site for identity production requires considerable contextualisation. Firstly, we must understand the theoretical links between social memory, institutions that contribute to it and identity production, which are inextricably linked to relations of power and knowledge. The project must be seen against the backdrop of memory institutions and archival practices in South Africa, in both the colonial and apartheid eras, and in light of efforts made to transform the postapartheid heritage landscape. We must also consider it in terms of established academic and politicised notions of Zuluness; the historical development of a ‘Zulu’ identity and how this was later used as a political resource of unification and propaganda in the early twentieth century and more recently by Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the LFP.

Michael Nixon: Reading South Africa’s Colonial Music Archive along the Grain

To the question, whether there is not a danger of aestheticising colonialism by studying the aesthetics of colonialism, Nicholas Dirks responded perhaps not if the study's results have implications beyond the sphere of aesthetics and are in the public arena. Our present knowledge of twentieth South African music history is informed in part by what may be provisionally termed the South African colonial music archive. In what ways did collectors including Bleek and Lloyd, Father Franz Mayr, Percival Kirby, Hugh Tracey, Yvonne Huskisson, and others who assembled this body of work use their research data, collections of recordings, musical instruments, and other artefacts to articulate and even the identities of multiple indigenous musics and music makers in South Africa? And in what ways did the prevailing political, moral and intellectual forces shaped their collections? In investigating these questions, this paper is situated within the ‘archival turn’ that investigates 'the making of colonial knowledge and the privileged social categories it produced’ (Ann Stoler).

Kylie Thomas: High Art/ Low Dead: Photography, HIV and AIDS and the African corpse

This article takes as its focus four images of corpses by South African photographer Pieter Hugo. While Hugo intended these portraits to form part of a larger series depicting people who have died of AIDS in South Africa and the effects of these losses on their families, he never completed this work. Entitled ‘The Bereaved’ and photographed in a mortuary in Khayelitsha, an informal settlement just outside of the city of Cape Town in 2005, the group would more accurately be named ‘The Deceased’. The four close-up head shots of men who have died of AIDS, shown in their coffins before their bodies are returned for burial to their homes in the Eastern Cape, are the only images for this series Hugo produced.

Creating a body of work that, engages with issues of mourning in South Africa in the time of AIDS could be understood as a critical, perhaps even radical, project. Yet far from opening a space for reflecting on mourning in the wake of the endless losses of the epidemic, Hugo’s images serve to reinforce the stigma that has made mourning those who have died of AIDS so difficult in South Africa. This paper offers a critique of Hugo’s images and makes use of these photographs to ask a series of questions about the relation between photography and the bodies of the dead.

Marlene Winberg: Kulimatji  Khum: The !xun San phrase for ‘We tell our old stories’

John Wright: Publishing the James Stuart Izibongo

Sandra Young: Curiosity and the Production of Knowledge as Power: Lessons from sixteenth-century natural historical inquiry

The collections of “curiosities" gathered together in the name of “learning” in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are fascinating for what they suggest of the relationship between seemingly impartial Knowledge and the management of troubling difference in the early stages of European expansionism. The written catalogues that accompanied these collections and the accounts of the explorations which yielded the specimens invite interrogation not only because they shed light on the troubling aspects of the early colonial encounter between Europe and America, but also because they offer evidence of the mutually reinforcing relationship between canonical Knowledge and hierarchical identity politics.

The compilations from the sixteenth century first presented the so-called “New World” to Europe and, in the process, sought to establish an order out of the explosion of knowledge about a newly “enlarged" world. What is apparent is the extent to which these stories of discovery and settlement were invested with a larger epistemological and imaginative role. Compilations included an array of material - natural historical treatises, treatises on astronomy, first-person accounts presented as “true histories", eloquent and poetic dedications, catalogues of items discovered, sometimes engravings, all gathered under one unifying frame and introduced and annotated by a compiler whose voice directs the reader's entry into the text. They therefore had the scope and the flexibility to allow for an imaginative response to the allure of so-called “discovery", but also the seriousness of formal representation, formal Knowledge. The sixteenth-century compilation presents itself as busy with serious-minded learning. It seems to have been tasked with translating the experience of the colonial encounter into Europe’s knowledge systems.

Carine Zaayman: Artistic Negotiations of Archives: Krotoa, Lady Anne Barnard and the Challenges of Embodying the Past within the Present

Conventionally, archives are understood to be inert sites in which fragments of the past are preserved as unchanged as possible for posterity. A range of contemporary theoretical developments and case studies of archival motility complicate this picture and invite us to reconsider the conventional view. The thesis proposed here will be such a reconsideration. It will take shape as an exploration in the form of both a written thesis, as well as a body of creative work that will form part of the submission.

Archives tend to be privileged places of repository that represent only a select few. The selective nature of the archive means that it embodies absences, and women especially feature only in limited ways. Because of their limitedness, archives are under considerable pressure to produce more information on subjects that are not well represented, to make them yield material required in the present. In my study, I shall explore the effect of this desire, namely what I identify as the explosion of the poetic, as well as the effects of this pressure on the nature of the archive itself. From the basis of this exploration, I shall produce my own creative body of work, which can be understood as a performance or embodiment of the archive.

This study focuses on two women, namely Krotoa (c.1642 - 1674) and Lady Anne Barnard (1750 -1825), who have been variously represented in the archives and beyond. As a young girl, Krotoa, one of the Goringhaicona, was taken into the household of Jan van Riebeeck shortly after his landing at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652. Her role in the household was varied and complex. Importantly, however, she was employed as an interpreter for Van Riebeeck in his negotiations with the Khoi. Krotoa (called 'Eva' by Van Riebeeck and his family) became the first so-called indigenous woman to be baptised in the Cape, and her marriage to Pieter van Meerhoff, was the first between a European and a Khoi. While Krotoa's life initially seem to have been made more comfortable by her association with the Dutch, after the departure of Van Riebeeck and the death of her husband, she lived increasingly on the margins of society, and was eventually imprisoned on Robben Island. Sadly, it would appear that without male protection, her 'go-between' status ultimately excluded her from acceptance in either the Dutch or Khoi communities.