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ICRPC :: Institut Català de Recerca en Patrimoni Cultural



Call for applications Uses and Museumification of the Past in Relationship to Nation-building, Cape Town

Call for applications
Doctoral School in Urban Anthropology, Heritage-making, Uses and Museumification of the Past in Relationship to Nation-building, Cape Town (July 27th -  August 9th, 2017), Deadline: April 15th.

The process of heritage-making in the context of a nation (re)building is multifaceted. In periods of historical transition, challenges are many and the fragility of the political context is fertile ground for revisiting the representation of the past. To understand these processes, an interdisciplinary engagement with contributions from history, anthropology, archeology, political science, art history and museology is necessary. Interdisciplinary collaboration, however, is not always easy to establish within the existing research institutional framework, built around separate disciplines. The main goal of this winter school is to create a doctoral training space and interdisciplinary exchange between researchers working on heritage- making process, uses and "museumification" of the past in connection with nation-building, or, more broadly, the construction of identities.

The South African context is particularly rich and provides complex terrains for considering these issues as “a post-conflict zone whose relationships with the past and sites of memory and trauma are being closely scrutinized” (Meskell, 2012). Whilst Western Europe has long been considered as the laboratory of modern heritage practices, and Germany in particular as a fundamental example for the study of Geschichtsbeweltigung, recent historiography has shown to what an extent South Africa has become in the last decades the site of innovative theoretical approaches and practices (e.g. Nuttall and Coetzee 1998, Davison 1998, 2005, Legassick and Rassool 2000, Coombes 2003, Lalu 2009, Meskell 2011, Esterhuysen 2012, Hamilton et al. 2012, Hamilton and Skotnes 2015, Peterson, Gavua and Rassool 2015, to give just some examples) that are breaking new ground in finding ways of coming to terms with difficult pasts, questioning fundamental issues of authority and representation.

The doctoral school takes the form of specialized training in social science research, developed in collaboration with different institutional partners, scholars, artists and curators working on colonial archives, collections and memories. The first edition was held in Istanbul, at the French Institute of Anatolian Studies (IFEA) (June-July 2016), the next edition will be held in Cape Town (July - August 2017) and the third one is planned to take place in Cotonou and Porto-Novo (2018).

Format of the school
The school has several components
• courses covering both the methodology of research and topics such as the history of museums / urban policies / archaeological research in South Africa. In addition to this “classical” format of courses and workshops, lecturers will engage in daily informal discussions with students to help them redesign their research project, develop interview guides, find references and documentary sources, etc.

• a practical workshop of visual anthropology (see bellow a short description)

• guided visits of the city (museums, contemporary art galleries and art centres, areas affected by contemporary transformations) and, if possible, guided visits to archaeological sites.

• field research project: teams of three students each will conduct a research project (interviews, participant observation, research in the central or local national / private archives, etc.).

• a workshop of curatorial practice covering practices in the design of an exhibition, from the museographic project to the development of partnerships and mediation.

• The school will end up with the presentation of results of this preliminary research in a form chosen by the PhD researchers: an oral presentation, a scientific poster, a photo / multimedia exhibition (excerpts from interviews, video material), a documentary film project or a happening in a museum / artist's studio.

Scientific content:
The courses and the PhD research projects will be focused on four main themes, namely: 1. Urban policies and politics of memory, 2. Museographies,  3. Contemporary artistic practices, 4. Archaeological practices.

1. Urban policies and politics of memory. The courses will focus on the representations of the past in the urban fabric of Cape Town. They will also address various methodologies to “read”  urban space, including visual ethnography, perspectives from science and technology studies, etc. The intention is to invite students to reflect on how urban space itself (re)presents different historical narratives and builds the cultural memory of the city and the “nation”: How does one rebuild the (post)colonial, post-apartheid city in South Africa? How specific “sites” (places, key events in the history of colonialism, slavery, apartheid) become realms of memory (Nora) or, in contrast, places of forgetting, of political or societal amnesia?

2. Museographies. We invite doctoral researchers to question the process of rewriting, renegotiation, and appropriation of the past from museum collections (ie. Imperial, colonial, apartheid, etc.). It aims to help students understand, explore and develop curatorial practices for the display of historical, “ethnographic” or art objects. The lectures and museum visits will problematize the power- knowledge inherent in the construction of archives, the production of sources and their use for the writing of history.

3. Contemporary artistic practices: We will interrogate artistic practices operating in relationship with transformations of urban space, political or societal amnesia. By meeting contemporary artists and visiting museums and art spaces we will examine aesthetic, political and epistemological dimensions of the encounter between urban and museum policies and contemporary art.

4. Archaeological practice Finally, we can question the production of knowledge about the past through archaeological practices and the particularity of their history, the role that archeology plays in contemporary South-African society, and the various ways in which local communities engage with archeological sites.

Convenors: Felicity BODENSTEIN, Quai Branly Museum – Jacques Chirac; Monica HEINTZ, Université Paris Nanterre; Damiana OTOIU, University of Bucharest ; Anna SEIDERER, Paris 8 University.

The courses and methodological workshops will be given by specialists in urban, political and visual anthropology, art history and archeology and urban geography. (Non-comprehensive) list of lecturers: Gruia BĂDESCU, University of Oxford & University of Cambridge; Felicity BODENSTEIN, Quai Branly Museum – Jacques Chirac; Patricia DAVISON, Cape Town (lecture and a site visit); Monica HEINTZ, Université Paris Nanterre; Cynthia KROS, Johannesburg; Damiana OTOIU, University of Bucharest ; Anna SEIDERER, Paris 8 University ; Alexander SCHELLOW, Berlin ; Catherine PERRET, Paris 8 University; John WRIGHT, Cape Town; Paul TICHMANN, Iziko Social History Centre, Iziko Museums of South Africa (lecture and a tour of the Slave Lodge Museum).

The visual workshop aims to visually capture the trajectory of socially engaged art in South Africa, from its social motivation (background), via its artistic conception and production, and up to its reception by the public. We shall start from several works of art of contemporary South African artists, and retrace, in dialogue with the artists, the social genealogy, the artistic and social engagement of the work, and its confrontation with the public. The intercultural dialogue between international students and South African artists in this context should provide a fertile ground for reflecting on cultural differences regarding social agendas, modes of social engagement, contexts of creation, aesthetics judgments, links with the local and international public. Each work of art will be the focus of a short video. Students will work in small groups, each group doing preliminary research and subsequent visual recordings on only one work of art and collaborate with only one artist. However, collective debates, performances etc. will be video-recorded, in order to provide material for an eventual subsequent editing in a short documentary film. Convened by Monica HEINTZ, Université Paris Nanterre, the visual workshop is organized in collaboration with local artists and researchers, e.g. Ri'aad DOLLIE, University of the Western Cape.

The doctoral researchers will have the opportunity to meet not only researchers (anthropologists, archaeologists, sociologists, art historians, etc.) but also artists, museum professionals, architects and urban planners. They will also benefit from the resources that will be made available by different local archives and museums. The PhD students will present and collectively exchange on their PhD research and on the field research projects.

After the Summer School
Doctoral researchers participating in the winter school will present the preliminary results of their field research and of the visual workshop at the end of summer school, through a public conference. They may become part of a multidisciplinary network of researchers that regularly organize courses / seminars / conferences organized within the framework of projects such as Museums and Controversial Collections. Politics and Policies of Heritage-Making in Post-Colonial and Post-socialist Contexts:http://www.nec.ro/research-programs/uefiscdi-cncs/te-projects/current/museums, or Glissements de terrain. Les collections muséales réinvesties par le champ de l’art contemporain, for instance the set of lectures Rewriting the Colonial Past: Contemporary Challenges of Museum Collections, taking place at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris: https://enseignements-2016.ehess.fr/2016/ue/1729//
They will be encouraged to continue the reflection on these issues as part of their doctoral courses and develop conference papers, articles, projects (individual or collective) of photographic exhibitions and documentary films.

In case there is an interest on the part of the doctoral researchers, the Francophone Research Regional Center for Advanced Social Sciences in Bucharest (the research cluster “Heritage making processes”) will provide its premises and a small budget for the organization of a photographic and/ or multimedia exhibition.

Selection of Participants:
Prospective students should send a brief presentation of their doctoral research (2-3 pages plus bibliography and sources) and a CV, in English, by April 15th, 2017 to  heritage.doctoralschool@gmail.com. Applicants will be notified of our selection by April 25th.

Logistical details:
Participation in the summer school is free, but the PhD students must cover their own travel expenses. Accommodation in Cape Town (shared double room) will be covered by the organizers. Some partner institutions (e.g. Paris 10 et Paris 8) partially cover the travel costs of the participation of their PhD students – please contact the organizers for more information. Additional funding (covering travel expenses) is available for students from the region. When sending your application, please indicate if you require such assistance.

Winter school funded by:
•       Museums and Controversial Collections. Politics and Policies of Heritage-Making in Post-Colonial and Post-socialist Contexts project of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation, CNCS – UEFISCDI, project number PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2368, New Europe College, Bucharest,
•       Ecole thématique "Processus de patrimonialisation : les usages et la „muséification“ du passé en lien avec la (re)construction nationale", project of La Maison Archéologie & Ethnologie, René-Ginouvès (CNRS/ Universités Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Paris Nanterre)
•       Glissements de terrain. Les collections muséales réinvesties par le champ de l’art contemporain project of Université Paris Lumières, Paris.
•       University Paris 8, Saint-Denis. Laboratory Arts of images and Contemporary Arts (AIAC).
•       The Francophone Regional Center for Advanced Research in Social Sciences, University of Bucharest (CEREFREA).

Frase Negra