The Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory | Africa Regional Group TFDC 2.15
Jul 06, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230706T0900 20230706T1030 Europe/London 5.11. Decolonisation and national memory

This panel investigates the public memory landscapes within various African/ African diasporic communities and how debates pertaining to the coloniality, and decolonising of memory take shape. Paper one considers the significance of inherited national colonial art collections found in the contemporary South African museum setting and reads them as influential curators of social and cultural memory. Paper two reads the historic figure of Krotoa Eva as emblematic of the decolonisation discussion in the South African memory landscape. Paper three analyses the public memorialization practices of the funeral coverage of Madikizela-Mandela as part of an ongoing process of decolonization in South Africa is part of a wider ethnographic research project on the relationship between individual and collective memories as institutionalized in the SABC. Paper four considers archival practices of the Rwandan genocide and the intermedial ways in which testimonies are categorized in the Genocide Archive of Rwanda.

Yolanda de Kock

A shared heritage: reconfiguring the communal role and significance of inherited colonial art collections in South African National Art Museums. 

This paper considers the question of reconfiguring the role and significance of inherited national colonial art collections found in the contemporary South African museum setting, museum discourse and museum display. Being authoritative and influential curators of social and cultural memory, museums – especially those with an ingrained or vibrant post-colonial presence and character – often function as significant heritage sites and public memory landscapes. Nevertheless, museums can also be powerful agents in communities seeking change and a reinvention and reinterpretation of their ...

TFDC 2.15 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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This panel investigates the public memory landscapes within various African/ African diasporic communities and how debates pertaining to the coloniality, and decolonising of memory take shape. Paper one considers the significance of inherited national colonial art collections found in the contemporary South African museum setting and reads them as influential curators of social and cultural memory. Paper two reads the historic figure of Krotoa Eva as emblematic of the decolonisation discussion in the South African memory landscape. Paper three analyses the public memorialization practices of the funeral coverage of Madikizela-Mandela as part of an ongoing process of decolonization in South Africa is part of a wider ethnographic research project on the relationship between individual and collective memories as institutionalized in the SABC. Paper four considers archival practices of the Rwandan genocide and the intermedial ways in which testimonies are categorized in the Genocide Archive of Rwanda.



Yolanda de Kock

A shared heritage: reconfiguring the communal role and significance of inherited colonial art collections in South African National Art Museums. 

This paper considers the question of reconfiguring the role and significance of inherited national colonial art collections found in the contemporary South African museum setting, museum discourse and museum display. Being authoritative and influential curators of social and cultural memory, museums – especially those with an ingrained or vibrant post-colonial presence and character – often function as significant heritage sites and public memory landscapes. Nevertheless, museums can also be powerful agents in communities seeking change and a reinvention and reinterpretation of their various histories and memory legacies which often encompass loss, trauma and a sense of being disenfranchised. In broaching these convoluted issues, colonial founder collections housed in South African National Museums form an integral part of this discussion. The colonial art collections under discussion were for the most part inherited and are interwoven within the historical narrative of the inauguration of these museums from the early 19th century onwards, and thus firmly rooted in colonialism. These founder collections have the peculiar distinction that they now reflect a cultural identity and a collected, collective and institutional memory that stand in stark contrast to South Africa's inclusive and post-apartheid environment. This unsurprisingly creates conflict due to its continued relevance, power and role in the South African Museum setting. In interpreting our British, Flemish and Dutch founding collections in South African National Art Museums – given their very nature and their concomitant ability to reflect and exert power – a contentious visual and cultural identity is exposed, having now created a post-colonial identity crisis and which seeks a resolution. This paper explores these debates and the attempts at a resolution which may come in the form of its recasting, reinvention or simply destigmatisation in the social fabric which now permeates the post-colonial South African landscape


Julia Koch Tshirangwana

Memory Flows in the Stadium – the SABC live report on a "special honorary funeral" 

On 14th of April 2018 Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was laid to rest after a day-long special honorary event in Orlando Stadium/Soweto. She had passed away on 2nd of April and the period between her death and the funeral was filled with public eulogies, confessions and critical self-inspection of many South Africans. They were called upon to reflect on her life, whose ups and downs had been highlighted in national debates since decades and to find words for what was supposed to be the heritage of the person. My contribution to the MSA conference on "Communities and Change" is based on a content analysis of the SABC live reporting, the 'performers' on stage and mentioned and the journalists' framing of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's biography. I set out to dis-entangle two competing and yet intertwined accounts of the presence of the past apartheid state in contemporary South Africa and the role of violence in the transformation of the South African political landscape in the 1980s and 1990s. This analysis of the public memorialization practices as part of an ongoing process of decolonization in South Africa is part of a wider ethnographic research project on the relationship between individual and collective memories as institutionalized in the SABC. The case of the various narrative(s) of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's life is particularly intriguing for the tides and flows of memories as the relate to any present moment.


Anna Katila

The Genocide Archive of Rwanda and the Collective Memory: Balancing between the Past, Present and Future.

Collective memory of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which saw deaths of over a million Tutsi, Twa and Hutu who opposed the genocide, continues to be contested. During the genocide in Rwanda, media was used to flame hatred and incite violence. The events did not receive appropriate and well-informed media attention in the West as the event unfolded. Misinformation has continued to circulate and is used by genocide denialists to minimise and misrepresent the nature of violence. This has created a memory landscape in which accurate information and educational activities remain important locally and internationally. The Genocide Archive of Rwanda was founded in 2010 by the archive and documentation department of the Aegis Trust to take care of information and materials collected for the establishment of the permanent exhibition at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in 2004, which commemorates victims and educates the public. The Genocide Archive of Rwanda has expanded since and now includes photographs, objects, audio recordings, video recordings, transcripts, documents and publications as well as interactive mapping data about pre-genocide Rwanda, the events and experiences of genocide and post- genocide reconstruction and peacebuilding processes. This paper will offer a case study about the role of this multi- and intermedial archive in local and international memorialisation and commemoration of the genocide. It will explore the question: How does this institution construct memory of the genocide and to what effect? Testimonies in the archive have been categorised and indexed on the website on the basis of a positionality: survivor, perpetrator, rescuer and elder. These categories reflect whose memories have been foregrounded in the public discourse, education and commemoration. The absence of bystanders – as conceptualised by Bar-On (2001), Kushner (2000) and Morina and Thjis (2018) – highlights the limited visibility of this positionality. My analysis of the archive and its contents traces a shift of focus from survivors' accounts of the events of genocide and understanding the historical social factors that led to it to documentation and experiences of reconstruction and peacebuilding. This paper will highlight the centrality of online accessibility of print materials such as transcripts and photographs alongside a wide range of audio-visual sources in digital formats. I will argue that the archive balances between its duty to preserve and look forward and between its local and international audiences. The archive continues to collect testimony and gather documents playing an important role in commemoration and inter-generational engagement. Outside Rwanda, the accessibility of curated materials, including testimony, seeks to counter the Western political and media discourse about the events that still sometimes reproduces colonial tropes, decolonising the memory of the genocide.


Ph.D. candidate
,
University of the Witwatersrand
Dr.
,
University of Göttingen
King's College London
 Annette Wentworth
Co-Chair MSA Africa
,
University of Alberta
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