Stage 1
15:00 - 15:30
Virtual Repatriation & Knowledge Production in Africa

Short thesis

This talk will engage questions on visual research, data, and decolonisation in a global information society using as a case study. The digital archive problematizes how a single country's 60 year published history has been created, distorted, and engenders a space where a variety of critical lenses are interwoven to question research truths in the Zimbabwean context.Complacency allows the ambiguities and complexities of marginal contexts to be concealed and even obliterated.


In the summer of 2016, a digital archive mapping the past 60 years of Zimbabwe's published history simply known as "Reading Zimbabwe" was created. It was preoccupied with the following questions: How do we read a country? Who gets to tell or write a country’s stories? How do we come to understand a place and its people? It was these questions that set off a journey in search of our country's literary heritage. What emerged out of this curiosity was an intricate web of knowledge production and publishing patterns as they relate to Zimbabwe's colonial and postcolonial history and how the country's memory is being systematically erased despite the ubiquity and open access the internet promises. This archive is therefore playing a symbolic return of information and documents that no longer exist, or have never existed in their home country. The speakers will introduce visual-based inquiry and explain how they have used it as a research and pedagogical tool in a process that uncovers subjugated knowledge about peripheral populations such as Zimbabwe using computational graphs that reveal authorship demographics and gender, book distribution patterns, etc. Reading Zimbabwe provides a blueprint for recovering and preserving cultural history in the African context.