Greenblatt on 'coloniality' of archives

03 October 2011

GreenblattArchives old and new were the topic of discussion at Negotiating Wonder and Taint: An afternoon of conversation with Stephen Greenblatt, a gathering with the famed cultural theorist hosted recently by the Archive and Public Culture (APC) research initiative.

Here the APC's Professor Carolyn Hamilton (right), with Dr Sandra Young and Mbongiseni Buthelezi of the Department of English Language and Literature, joined Greenblatt (second from right) to muse about the origins and nature of archives, and the often troubled role these archives - "steeped in the coloniality of their formation", according to Young - play in scholarly life in South Africa.

One starting point for the conversation was Greenblatt's 1991 Marvellous Possessions, a collection of essays in which he looked at the ways in which Europeans of the Middle Ages and the early modern period represented non-Europeans in archival travel narratives, legal documents and reports.

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