Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


VIRTUAL IAS Festival: The Fragility of the Archive

04 May 2021, 5:00 pm–6:30 pm

Fragility of the Achive

In the wake of the devastating fire that destroyed the University of Cape Town’s Jagger Library on Sunday 18 April, five scholars who work with and in African archives gather to mourn our collective loss and to consider the fragility of the archive now. What, we ask, can rise from these ashes? What have we lost and what can we redeem from this moment of ecological and epistemological crisis? This event is a conversation with Hlonipha Mokoena (WISER, historian), Thokozani Mhlambi (sound archivist and musician), Jacob Dlamini (Princeton, historian), Tamar Garb (UCL, art historian, curator) and Verne Harris (Nelson Mandela Foundation, archivist, theorist, activist)

This event is free.

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Institute of Advanced Studies

Image: Courtesy of Berni Searle.

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Thokozani Mhlambi

He plays the cello, sings and composes his own songs, and uses his art and exhibitions in order to convey African stories/philosophies. He received his PhD in Music from the University of Cape Town, where he also became the National Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Innovation. Mhlambi has showcased his work at leading platforms such as the National Arts Festival in Makhanda (Grahamstown), Baxter Theatre, Soweto Theatre and most recently State Theatre in Pretoria—where he has drawn audiences from all walks of life. He has also been visiting lecturer at universities in Finland (Jyväskylä) and Brazil, to mention a few. He has had opportunities to perform and speak in places such as New Orleans (Tulane), São Paulo, Maputo (Mozambique), New York and Vancouver (Canada). 

Tamar Garb

Tamar Garb is Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art. Her research interests have focused on questions of gender and sexuality in European art as well as on post-apartheid culture, contemporary art and the history of lens-based practices in Africa.  Recent curatorial projects include: Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography (V&A, 2011); Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive (Walther Collection, 2015) William Kentridge and Vivienne Koorland: A Conversation in Letters and Lines (Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 2016) and Made Routes: Vivienne Koorland and Berni Searle (Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, 2019).

Jacob Dlamini

Jacob Dlamini is a historian of Africa, with an interest in precolonial, colonial and postcolonial African History. He obtained a PhD from Yale University in 2012 and is also a graduate of Wits University in South Africa and Sussex University in England. His publications include The Terrorist Album: Apartheid’s Insurgents, Collaborators, and the Security Police and Askari: A Story of Collaboration and Betrayal in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle.

Hlonipha Mokoena

Hlonipha Mokoena received her Ph.D. from the University of Cape Town in 2005. She is currently an associate professor and researcher at WiSER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Her articles have been published in: Journal of Natal and Zulu History; Journal of Religion in Africa; Journal of Southern African Studies; Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies; Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies; Image & Text and Critical Arts.

Verne Harris

Verne Harris heads the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s leadership and knowledge development processes. He was Mandela’s archivist from 2004 to 2013, directed the Foundation’s archives programme for 15 years and the dialogue and advocacy programme for five years. He is an adjunct professor at the Nelson Mandela University, participated in a range of structures which transformed South Africa’s apartheid archival landscape, including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and is a former Deputy Director of the National Archives. He has authored or co-authored six books, but is probably best-known for leading the editorial team on the best-seller Nelson Mandela: Conversations with Myself.

This talk forms part of the IAS fifth anniversary festival on the theme of ‘Alternative Epistemologies’.


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