Campus Neues Palais
building 2, room 1.10
University of Potsdam
Am Neuen Palais 10
Visualising Southern African Late Iron Age Settlements in the Digital Age
The proposed dissertation project studies the visualisation of southern African Late Iron Age settlements (second millennium AD, 900 - 1800) across the late nineteenth, twentieth and early twenty-first century (1871- 2015), found in a survey of the cultural production, circulation, reproduction and theorisation of illustrations accompanying archaeological, anthropological and historical southern African Late Iron Age Research (LIAR). The project focuses on the visualisation of five settlements namely: Mapungubwe, Khami, Great Zimbabwe, Bokoni and Manyikeni. I propose that as with the authority of Eurocentric ‘formative interpretations’ of LIAR currently under review, visualisations accompanying LIAR also needs to be critically relooked at within appropriate visual cultural methodologies informed by postcolonial and critical race theory. A valuable contribution of critical LIAR is arguably its continuous demonstration of a pre-colonial hub of cosmopolitanisms on a scale never imagined in colonial histories of ‘indigenous’ communities – thought of as the ultimate ‘other’ of global modernity. The proposed dissertation project can be located thematically within the focus areas Minor Cosmopolitan Memory and Indigeneity, within the RTG Minor Cosmopolitanisms. The proposed research methodology is two-fold; it involved a textual analysis and an image making process. On both accounts, the study focuses on the cultural politics of representation asking; what and who is being made visible in the visualisation of settlements accompanying LIAR and how; what forms of materiality and spatiality are pictured and performed; finally, what affect such visualisations have on the people that experience them.