Spirals - Collecting Languages on Friday, 17 December

15 Dec 2021
15 Dec 2021

The Centre for Curating the Archive hosts the final, concluding session of the Spirals virtual seminar series on Friday 17 December 2021 3-4:30pm (SAST). This session considers the collecting of linguistic data in the southern African context, and the knowledge practises and orders it links into.

We are honoured and excited to host Dr Anette Hoffmann as our speaker for this session. She is based at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Cologne, Germany. She is an associate researcher at the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town. Her new project engages with historical articulations of language and race in the research of German linguists in Southern Africa. Her monograph Kolonialgeschichte Hören was published in 2020, with an English translation scheduled for 2022 (Basler Afrika Bibliographien). Building on her research on recordings with African Prisoners of World War I in Germany, she curated the exhibition War and Grammar (Der Krieg und die Grammatik) shown at the MARKK Museum in Hamburg in 2019. Her sound installation Foreign Subjects was shown at the Bergen Assembly in Norway in 2019 (see anettehoffmann.com).  

For this Spirals talk, titled Reading a History of Violence in Linguistic Records, engages with Dorothea Bleek's notebooks from the prison in Windhoek and from a police station in Sandfontein 1920-1922. Hoffmann studies the collections of linguists with regard to their epistemic practises. Their texts present historical articulations of concepts of language, origins, and race. Yet how can we read the example sentences and the transcriptions of accounts of the speakers who witnessed those practises and responded to them?

We are excited to have Sophie Schasiepen, postdoctoral researcher at the Open Society funded project Action for Restitution to Africa at the Department of History, University of the Western Cape, as our discussant. Her research revolves around the meaning of human remains that were appropriated for racial science and which are still kept in museum and academic collections for today's politics and demands for social and economic justice.

Please join us by following the Spirals Zoom link (Meeting ID: 991 9954 6412 Passcode: 920512).