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On Other Poleis

by Sikho Siyotula

6-8 December 2018
Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
Minor Cosmopolitan Weekend: A program by the Research Training Group Minor Cosmopolitanisms, supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, in cooperation with Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Sikho Siyotula presented her work at the Minor Cosmopolitan Weekend that took place from 6-8 December 2018 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Her work explores relationship and order, specifically a cosmos of Black poles of precolonial power. It is a study that looks at the archaeology of Southern African Iron Age settlements (A.D. 900 – 1800) where the patterns that emerge invite the viewer to observe their spaces and lines, visually and mentally. The accompanying sketches and rock engravings collected over the years represent a usable African history. In relation to the larger project of Minor Cosmopolitanisms, they are a contemplation of multiple orders that allude to a possible comparison of European town and city planning of the same time. These minor / black / other / individual poleis stand in relation to a multitude or a cosmos of other poleis; such a tool in nationalist rhetoric can be used to destabilize colonial powers and their hold on the writing and framing of Southern African history. Visualization of these settlements needs to be critically relooked at within appropriate visual cultural methodologies. Methodologies that would allow for a critical engagement with the cultural politics of representation, the material culture of images, image processing and image visualization, looking and seeing. This visual space is connected to a political space of possibilities.

Sikho Siyotula, born 21 September 1989 in Johannesburg South Africa, is a South African citizen living in Potsdam, Germany. Siyotula is currently a doctoral fellow with the RTG Minor Cosmopolitanisms. She is enrolled in a joint doctorate between The University of Potsdam in Germany and the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Her doctoral study investigates the visualisation of Late Iron Settlements (LIAS) in the archaeological publications of the late 19th, 20th and 21st century. Siyotula argues that as with the authority of ‘formative’ interpretations of LIAS under review, the visualisation of such settlements also needs to be critically relooked at within appropriate visual cultural frameworks. Her study has a written component and also involves the creation of images. Siyotula is informed by her training as a visual artist, practices of blackness in contemporary visual arts, as well as her research interests in intercultural relations. She is invested in practices of making – particularly the making of visual images – within academia.


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