Grant McNulty is presenting a paper at the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity seminar. This paper offers an ethnographic investigation of the contemporary preservation and production of the past in Umbumbulu, a peri-urban area to the south of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. As such, it is concerned with the work that the past is made to do by various actors in the present. It takes as its point of departure the Ulwazi Programme, a web initiative of the eThekwini Municipality to create what its advocates term a collaborative, online, indigenous knowledge resource in the form of a Wiki. The paper then considers various other locations in Umbumbulu in which the past is being dealt with and where custody of the past is actively managed by local writers like Desmond Makhanya and Siyabonga Mkhize, as well as traditional leaders. In some instances, the work being done concerning the past straddles both custodial and productive practices, inviting a re-evaluation, or at least a muddying, of distinctive notions of custodianship of sources and the production of a particular version of history. While historians and archivists frequently think of these practices as separate, the ethnographic material I have collected shows that they are intertwined in daily practice.

Grant McNulty worked on developing the first digital video archive of human communication (CAVA) at University College London’s (UCL) Department of Human Communication Sciences. He has also worked as a research associate at UCL, using digital video to improve cross-cultural pharmacy consultations. Grant has a Masters in Zulu from the University of Natal and is currently registered for a PhD in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town. His thesis focuses on different ways in which claims to custodianship of the past (in various forms – indigenous knowledge, tradition and custom, heritage) are used to access resources in the present.

Please email us for a copy of the paper.

Date: Tuesday, 07 August 2012

Time: 15:00-16:30

Venue: ccrri seminar room, 2nd floor George Campbell building, South Campus, Howard College Campus. Use the south entrance into the building; and Entrance 3 on Rick Turner (Francois) Road if driving.

Enquiries: or 031 260 1599/3904/3902

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