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Conjunctions of Archives and Public Spheres


Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Klosterberg 23, Basel

Conference organised by the Centre for African Studies Basel (ZASB) and the Basler Afrika Bibliographien (BAB) in cooperation with the Swiss Society for African Studies and with support from the Swiss Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Recorded performance, Omaruru (Namibia), 1954
Image: picture: Ernst und Ruth Damann, Basler Afrika Bibliographien PA.39 D01 1281

Embodied histories have found their way into western (colonial) archives as fragments, usually by means of audio-visual media of all sorts (acoustic, image, and film documents). This conference organised by the Centre for African Studies of the University of Basel and the Basler Afrika Bibliographien on behalf of the Swiss Society for African Studies focuses on Africa-related multi-media archives (and not only audio-visual collections) to explore two main trajectories:

  • the con- and disjunctions within multi-media archives and collections, with reference to ‘documenting’ (performative) histories and memory, in particular; and
  • the con- and disjunctions of such archives and collections in relation to historical as well as current public spheres, and not only in their countries of origin.

Both trajectories raise principal questions with regard to, on the one hand, epistemologies of multi-media archives and curatorial interventions, and, one the other hand, with reference to audiences, visibility, and dissemination.

Multi-media archives have of late generated innovative curatorial and scholarly work. Principally transdisciplinary in outlook, such work commonly reflects collective initiatives by curators/archivists, scholars, and artists. These initiatives (re-) situate and (re-)create (new) approaches, aesthetics, and understanding. They generate interventions of all sorts and not only in their countries of origin and emphasise, implicitly or explicitly, relational knowledge productions. Importantly, they raise questions relating to audiences (broader or specific) as engaged in, affected by, or (dis-)connected from archives and collections, histories and narratives, with questions pertaining to restitution and repatriation tied in.

General Assembly of the SSAS and Namibia Research Day

The conference to be held in Basel as a hybrid event, aims at bringing archivists, curators, scholars, artists, and a broader academic audience into conversation. It will be concluded on 20 October 2023 by the annual General Assembly of the Swiss Society for African Studies and, on 21 October 2023, the 10th Namibia Research Day.


Please download the program here


Please register for the conference and/or General Assembly latest by 15 October 2023 via online form.


Dag Henrichsen (BAB),
Lorena Rizzo (ZASB),


Languages: English