Circulations Conference / 3-4 November 2016

International Conference Circulations: the (un)making of Southern Africa beyond and across borders

Johannesburg, 3-4 November 2016

Venue: French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), 62 Juta Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg

In 2015, international migration attracted a great deal of attention in academia and public spheres alike, prompted as it was by the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. In South Africa, too, violent attacks targeting immigrants in Kwazulu-Natal not only raised serious concerns about the effects of social inequalities in the country but also exposed a profound fracture in the post-apartheid project of commitment to human rights and non-discrimination (including based on nationality). They were a clear reminder that some of the promises that the dream of the “rainbow nation” entertained still remain dangerously unfulfilled. In neighboring countries where migration to South Africa has been a historical constant, these events provoked strong reactions and public criticism. In Mozambique, the long history of labor migration to the mines and past solidarity against apartheid were often mobilized to stress the powerful connections between these countries and their peoples, and advance a view of Mozambicans in South Africa as active members of that society, and not just “outsiders”. The public debate triggered by the attacks is telling of how central human mobilities have been in the history of the region, and how critical these histories remain in our present moment, where long-standing tensions and deep-rooted inequalities are still being worked out.

The International Conference “Circulations: the (un)making of Southern Africa beyond and across borders”, to be held in Johannesburg, 3-4 November 2016, will address some of these critical issues, in their historical depth and contemporary resonance. We intend to offer a critical space for historians, social scientists, critics, artists, and the public at large to re-think and re-consider the shared historical trajectories and social experiences in the region, from settler colonialism to national liberation, beyond and across borders. By focusing on the porosity of borders (of a nation, a territory, a community) and on the centrality of border-making processes, we intend to unsettled some authorized and familiar distinctions, e.g. the centre and the margins, the insider and the outsider. Instead, we hope to encourage debate on the various forms of conversation and circulation taking place, in the past and present, beyond and across political and national borders.



9h-9h30. Registration/Welcome

9h30-10h30. Keynote Address. Pamila Gupta, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), Wits University, South Africa: “On Decolonization: Refraction and Reverberation

10h30-12h00. Panel: Of Settlements and Diaspora: rethinking migration and settler colonialism

Duncan Money, International Studies Group, University of the Free State, South Africa: “‘Artisans can get a bare living anywhere’: White labour mobility and wartime movement restrictions on the Zambian Copperbelt, 1939-47

Jean Smith, King’s College London, UK: “‘Come to the Land of Sunshine’: British migration to South Africa and Rhodesia in the 1960s and 1970s

Zoe Groves, University of Cambridge, UK: “Black Settlers and ‘Alien Natives’: mobility and settlement in colonial southern Africa, c.1890-1923

12h00-13h00. Lunch Break

13h00-14h30. Panel: Moving Bodies, Moving Things: mobilities and material cultures in Southern Africa

Pedro Pombo, Indian Institute of Technology of Gandhinagar (IITGN), India: “Stereos, words in the wall and a Woolworths reed kitchen: Traces of migration in Southern Mozambique

Nedson Pophiwa, Human Sciences Research Council and University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa: “The meanings and spatial practices of shopping oriented border-border mobility by Zimbabweans in Musina, South Africa

Ying Cheng, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK: “Never Arriving: The Naming and Recycling of ‘China Bags’ in Contemporary African Arts

14h30-15h00. Coffee Break

15h00-17h30. Panel: Circulations in Contemporary Art (with the support of Pro-Helvetia Johannesburg)

Ana Balona de Oliveira, Art Historian and Curator, Portugal: Introduction: “Thinking circulations in Southern Africa and beyond through artistic practice

Eurídice Kala , Artist, Mozambique: “The Journey: ‘You are not travelling today… and that’s it’ (the air stewards of the airline Vuelling)

Ângela Ferreira, Artist, Portugal/South Africa/Mozambique: “Fluidity, Impediments, Implications

Simon Gush, Artist, South Africa: “Being Here

Meghna Singh, Artist, India/South Africa: “Visualizing migration through time, space and memory

André Cunha, Curator, Angola: “Burned Expectations” (on the work of António Ole)


9h-10h30. Panel: Spaces of circulation: environment and territory in Southern African history

Andrea Arrington-Sirois, Indiana State University, USA: “Development beyond Victoria Falls: Transcolonial Schemes and Visions for a British Southern Africa

Giorgio Miescher, Centre for African Studies, University of Basel, Switzerland: “Tracks of Empire: on the materiality and imagination of South Africa’s railway system

Caio Simões de Araújo, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies (IHEID), Switzerland: “Bifas, Curries and LM Prawns: the making of settler spaces in colonial Mozambique

10h40- 12h00. Panel: Borderlines: the (un)making of borders in Southern Africa

Andrew MacDonald, Wits University, South Africa: “Migrants, Borders and Southern Africa in the Longue Durée

Chris Saunders, University of Cape Town, South Africa: Beyond and across the Namibia/Angola border in the Namibian War of Independence

12h00-13h. Lunch Break

13h00- 14h30. Panel: Dangerous liaisons: mobility, diplomacy and the Cold War

Christian Williams, Department of Anthropology, University of Free State, South Africa:Education in Exile: International Scholarships, Cold War Politics, and Conflicts among SWAPO Members in Tanzania, 1961-1968

Iolanda Vasile, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal: “‘Caro amigo’: Mozambique and Socialist Republic of Romania’s ‘soft power’ and cultural diplomacy during the Cold War years

Matteo Grilli, International Studies Group, University of Free State, South Africa: “African nationalism and Pan-Africanism in a transnational dimension: the case of Nkrumah’s support to freedom fighters in South Africa and Lesotho

14h30-15h00. Coffee Break

15h00-16h00. Panel “Circulating Legacies: Pancho Guedes and Patrick Harries”

Noëleen Murray, Wits City Institute, Director, Wits University, South Africa

Luís Covane, Nachingwea University, Dean, Mozambique

16h00. Closing Remarks

17h00. Opening of Photo Exhibition “Usakos: Photographs Beyond Ruins”

Venue: ROOM Art Gallery, 23 Voorhout Street, Johannesburg

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