Annual Fage Lecture, 'Displacements of Discourse and the Making of the Concept of African Oral Tradition'

Lecture Room 1 - Arts Building
Monday 4 December 2017 (17:00-18:00)

The Fage Lecture is DASA’s annual lecture, given by a distinguished Africanist scholar. This year’s Fage Lecture will be given by Professor Carolyn Hamilton (University of Cape Town), speaking on ‘Displacements of  Discourse and the Making of the Concept of African Oral Tradition’. 

The Lecture will take place on Monday 4 December at 5 pm in Lecture Room 1, Arts Building, University of Birmingham, and will be followed by a drinks reception. All are welcome to join us.

This year’s Fage Lecturer, Professor Carolyn Hamilton, is NRF Research Chair In Archive and Public Culture at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Prof. Hamilton has published widely on the pre-industrial history of South Africa. Her recent work focuses on the limits and possibilities of archives, and on operations of power in and through archives.

In the 1980s she completed a thesis on power and authority in the Zulu kingdom under Shaka, from which she emerged deeply uncertain about the nature of the sources available. She spent the next ten years of her research life probing the complex entanglements in which those sources were involved, publishing a book on the topic, Terrific majesty: the powers of Shaka Zulu and the limits of invention (Harvard University Press) in 1998. The book was an attempt to understand the complex interplay of public, political, and academic discourses and practices that, over time, shaped and were shaped by the sources used in the original enquiry about the Zulu kingdom. It was her opening move in what is a yet ongoing enquiry into the making of the archive of pre-industrial southern Africa. By now uncertain about both the concepts of archive and public which increasingly undergirded the quest for new ways to grapple with “sources,” she pursued them, first through the Constitution of Public Intellectual Life Research Project (initially published in 2009 and 2010 in two special symposia of the journal, Social Dynamics) and its ongoing successor form, the Public Life of Ideas Network, the Refiguring the Archive (2002) exercise, and its ongoing successor, the current Research Initiative in Archive and Public Culture. 

Along with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Prof. Hamilton was responsible for the establishment of the Archival Platform, a civil society-based intervention in the politics of archive and the role of archive in a democracy. She currently hosts the platform at UCT, and was previously a member of the board of the South African History Archive and the inaugural Council of Robben Island, and a founder member of the Gay and Lesbian Archive.

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