The Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory | Africa Regional Group TFDC 1.18
Jul 05, 2023 13:30 - 15:00(Europe/London)
20230705T1330 20230705T1500 Europe/London 4.8. Periodicals and African Memory

This panel investigates ways in which the study of African periodical print cultures engages in producing memories of colonization and decolonization across various temporal strands, communities and periods. Continuing important work on colonial print and newspaper archives by Peterson, Newell, Barber and Zelizer and building on the related burgeoning field that studies the production circulation and groups that cluster around print cultures in Africa, this two-part panel responds to a wider call about imagining what an African memory studies that sensitive to the archival roles of print culture might look like. In the two panels, we offer an exploration of highly contextualized and historically-situated scholarship developed in relation to public memory, art history, gender and intermediality within periodicals operating by and large in African locales. We ask what a specifically African periodical memory might look like and what kind of concerns of public, but also smaller circuit-networked memory can be highlighted within such a discussion. The multivalence of such print archives in constructing cultural and collective memories of intellectual debates can be easily gleaned from the conversations in the panels which range from discussing the complex ways in which the Herero genocide in Namibia is memorialized in the Christian periodical Omahungi (Krautwald), to the use of counter memory in the creation of a Black public sphere in Bantu World (Sandwith), to understanding the city of Nairobi as literary archive in the Kwani (Hållén and Kebaya), as well as understanding the interdisciplinary form of the literary periodical by tracing views and reviews of black African art in literary periodicals under high apartheid (Zirra). A specific focus on the production and cu ...

TFDC 1.18 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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This panel investigates ways in which the study of African periodical print cultures engages in producing memories of colonization and decolonization across various temporal strands, communities and periods. Continuing important work on colonial print and newspaper archives by Peterson, Newell, Barber and Zelizer and building on the related burgeoning field that studies the production circulation and groups that cluster around print cultures in Africa, this two-part panel responds to a wider call about imagining what an African memory studies that sensitive to the archival roles of print culture might look like. In the two panels, we offer an exploration of highly contextualized and historically-situated scholarship developed in relation to public memory, art history, gender and intermediality within periodicals operating by and large in African locales. We ask what a specifically African periodical memory might look like and what kind of concerns of public, but also smaller circuit-networked memory can be highlighted within such a discussion. The multivalence of such print archives in constructing cultural and collective memories of intellectual debates can be easily gleaned from the conversations in the panels which range from discussing the complex ways in which the Herero genocide in Namibia is memorialized in the Christian periodical Omahungi (Krautwald), to the use of counter memory in the creation of a Black public sphere in Bantu World (Sandwith), to understanding the city of Nairobi as literary archive in the Kwani (Hållén and Kebaya), as well as understanding the interdisciplinary form of the literary periodical by tracing views and reviews of black African art in literary periodicals under high apartheid (Zirra). A specific focus on the production and curation of gender in the periodicals becomes another important strand in the panel conversations, for instance in the analysis of "translucent black feminities" in advertising and columns about Dolly Rathebe and Miriam Makeba as seen in Drum magazine (Ndimande), or on the ways in which female solidarity and feminism are represented in posters distributed together with MEDU (Motseothata). Papers explore collecting memories of exile within Anglophone memoirs in North Africa (Kutait) and and intersecting archives of Holocaust histories and an artistic production based on archival investigation (Turpin).



Fabian Krautwald, Princeton University 

'My name: Omahungi' – Print Culture, Christianity, and Memories of Genocide in Central Namibia 1910-1961

Abstract: This paper examines how the Herero of Namibia have recalled Christianization and genocide in the Otjiherero mission newspaper "Omahungi" ("Conversation" or "Stories"). Founded under German colonial rule (1884-1915) after the Herero and Nama genocide of 1904-1908, the small but influential newspaper became a venue in which Christian Herero could remember pioneering evangelists as well as seek solace for what had occurred. I argue that under South African rule (1915-1990), print media such as Omahungi became a crucial but hitherto neglected site for the Herero to make memories of the genocide of 1904-1908 while also defining their identification as Christians. Through the figures of pioneering evangelists and early Christians, Herero evangelists and pastors recalled how survivors of the genocide found solace in Christianity as well as the Lutheran mission's complicity in the colonial project. Yet far from breaking with the mission church and their former colonizers, leading Herero pastors in the 1950s relied on Omahungi to criticize Christians who founded their independent Herero congregation, the Oruuano (Unity) Church. By exploring these contestations, the paper demonstrates the ways in which the Herero have relied on print media to recall the 1904-1908 genocide, while also highlighting the internal tensions and fissures among believers about the right way to deal with its aftermath.


Corinne Sandwith

Senses of the Past: African Print Cultures and the Making of Cultural Memory

Abstract: I propose a reading of the black periodical press as a site of conspicuous memory work and of shared and contested remembrance. Drawing on existing scholarship on the social construction of memory, the paper is concerned with the implicit rules and cultural frameworks that govern the cultural recall of the past and, in relation to African print cultures in particular, what aspects of African pasts are brought into the present and how these are remembered or forgotten. Against a more conventional focus in memory studies on narrative form, this paper highlights the importance of popular periodical print cultures for the making and remaking of cultural memory while also paying close attention to the specific form of the periodical itself (publicity, seriality, adjacency, recursion and immediacy) and the role this plays in shaping public acts of remembrance. The focus of this discussion is Bantu World newspaper, the pre eminent voice of moderate black respectability and progress in 1930s South Africa, a paper which was also marked by a repetitive concern with the framing and interpretation of African pasts as a central part of its self designated public role. This reading of Bantu World as mnemonic practice aligns with existing understandings of cultural memory as provisional, performative, repetitive, active and collaborative; thus, also highlighting ongoing processes of rewriting and remembering in relation to present day demands. What is also evident is the particular richness of African periodical cultures for the study of colonial and decolonial senses of the past; in particular, the ways in which it reveals a history of visible tensions and public contestations over the meanings of the past. My reading of Bantu World points to several competing cultural frameworks which determine the ways in which African pasts are brought into the newspaper present in 1930s South AfricaOf special interest in this paper is the way in which Bantu World stages a representative debate about the value of acts of historical remembrance themselves.


Maria Zirra

Provisional Avant-Gardes, Complicity and Periodical Archives: Arts Reviews in Contrast, MEDU and The Classic. 

Abstract: This paper explores the terms under which black African art is discussed and reviewed in a number of South African literary periodicals. I consider the valences of African visual memory as they are explored in print archives and reflect on the value of such an archival reading in a contemporary period. I inquire about forms of memory circulation that make visible the institutions of memory (Vermeulen) and a model where reception and circulation are more localized, more or less hermetic and dependent on print ecosystems, as well as on systems of curatorship and patronage under high apartheid. I focus specifically on one instance of a "prismatic combination between literature and visual arts" that recurs across three different periodicals with different political orientations, namely the art review essay. This is instructive in its heightened intermediality, but also in its ability to produce a discourse on emergent black African artists in a period where their access to arts tuition and the academies was heavily curtailed by apartheid policy. I analyze the tone, frequency and strategic choices of exhibition reviews and essays about contemporary protest art and black art in the magazines and interrogate white complicity and curatorial discourse using Mark Saunders' work and Michael Rothberg's idea of the implicated subject. In the process of mapping the allegiances and exclusions of the magazines, I employ Sophie Seita's description of avant-garde protoforms and the provisionality of movements as depicted by magazine communities and Peter McDonald's description of the group around Wurm and Contrast as the volk avant-garde


Joe Turpin 

Artwork Production in Response to Specific Historical Research in West Africa 

From January to March 2020, I was invited to be Artist in Residence with RAW Material Company, Centre for Art, Knowledge and Society in Dakar, Senegal. I produced a body of artworks in response to a recently uncovered history of the Holocaust in what was then known as French West Africa. In addition to specifically anti-Jewish laws, a concentration camp was established in the town of Sebikotane, where prisoners of wars and Jews who contravened the discriminatory laws were sent for hard labour. My research included speaking with and reading the papers of the professors who uncovered this history recently; visiting the Université Cheikh Anta Diop and the Senegalese National Archives in Dakar; site visits to the former camp grounds in Sebikotane; reaching out to and engaging with people who have a knowledge of this past; including an author and historian of the town. After some further research in the archives of Yivo and the Leo Baeck Institute in New York, the latest artwork was produced, with more works produced, this project interrogates the margins of totalitarianism, the complexity and entanglement of the position of Jewish people in Colonial Africa, and questions the current need to highlight such histories in a post-Colonial context. 

Keywords: Senegal; Holocaust; Colonization; Research; Artwork; Residency; Archives; History

Postgraduate Research Associate, Lecturer
,
Princeton University
Lecturer
,
University of Pretoria
Postdoctoral Researcher
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Department of English, Stockholm University
Dr Nicola Cloete
Senior Lecturer
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University of the Witwatersrand
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