Reading groups meet regularly to tackle texts and topics germane to our field of enquiry. Using a combination of literature survey and close reading methods, the reading groups enable participants to gain familiarity with a wide range of material and to engage intensively with selected texts. Run along the lines of advanced seminars, the groups require participants from different disciplines to mine selected texts for crucial concepts and arguments that shape the terrain of critical archive enquiry. The idea is that participants then bring these new-found insights to bear on their own projects in an innovative way.

The reading groups elect their own topics on an ongoing basis. To date they have engaged, amongst other things, questions of archive, memory, memorialisation, trauma and forgetting in relation to events like the Holocaust and 9/11, as well as South Africa’s present and past. Other topics have included notions of indigenous custodianship, silences in the archive, hybridity and entanglement.

In 2020 the APC ran three reading groups: southern African political life before colonialism, covering the period c1700-1840; the texts of early southern African Black literati; and a focus on research on the KZN region, c.1750- c.1930.

In 2021, we have a Lesotho research group covering 1700-1970 in eluding topics on travel, politics, communication and colonialism.