Memory, space/knowledge tensions and the necropolitics of contemporary pasts in southern Africa
Per Ditlef Fredriksen, Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, will deliver the lecture “Memory, space/knowledge tensions and the necropolitics of contemporary pasts in southern Africa”.
The seminar is open to all, including bachelor and master students. No registration is required. After the seminar, drinks and snacks will be served in our lunchroom.
In this paper I explore how an archaeological gaze at the material conditions of contemporary everyday life can provide a distinctive view when studying social dynamics. Using fieldwork in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe as departure point for a wider discussion, I focus on the relevance of the notion of necroculture, as coined by anthropologist Hylton White (2011), or necropolitics (Jopela and Fredriksen 2015; Fredriksen 2016), for understanding contemporary engagements with the past.
I consider two overlapping and mutually informing research foci. The first is communication with ancestors by material means, exploring how materialities of the everyday relate to understandings of the human condition, death, containment of being, place and temporality. The second focus is engagements with soil substances and water, exploring ceramic technologies’ relationship to the spatiality of built environments and farming. Seeking to demonstrate that ethnographic exploration of material entanglements can spiral reflection into novel and perhaps unforeseen domains, the examples will be related to a wider discussion of the relevance of archaeological approaches to the contemporary world.
Per Ditlef Fredriksen is Associate Professor in archaeology in the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, and a research associate in the Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town. His research interests include archaeological studies of contemporary rural southern Africa, critical heritage studies, ceramic technologies as well as theoretical and methodological issues relating to the relationships between archaeology, history and social anthropology.