After hours of reading manuscripts and documents by screen light, desk lamp, or light streaming in through floor-to-ceiling glass windows, how do the historian’s eyes and mind adjust to the dazzling light outside the archives on a sunny day? Using this question as organizing principle, and personal experiences of the archive as philosophical white place and space, this presentation considers the design, research, and writing of (academic) History and its impact on a human world (finally?) decolonizing the ontology and epistemology of what it means to belong to this planet. The image of the historian’s eyes adjusting to bright sunlight and a wider vista than the manuscript or artifact in an archive, then, is a signpost for reconsidering how historians do history. How historians do and do not question an academic discipline still adjusting to the bright light of decolonial thought and practice that deeply implicates historians in the colonial practices of education as instrument of power and oppression, over the Earth and the human colonized. The question I hope we can ponder together is: What happens to the history of our planet, and the lives of others, in the “decolonized” historian’s hands?
About the speaker
Ruramisai Charumbira is an Associate Professor of African History at the University of Western Ontario (Western), Canada. Trained as a historian of at Yale University, she currently writes on collective memory and amnesia on the human memory of nature and nature’s memory of humans. She also maintains an invocation practice in the traditions of Southern Africa through a poetry blog form at: The Animist.
The Joint ANSO / IHP Tuesday Seminars is a regular series of discussions co-organized by the International History and Politics and Anthropology and Sociology Departments at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies to discuss a variety of global questions from a multiplicity of historically and ethnographically-informed perspectives.
The Seminars take place every Tuesday from 16:15 to 18:00 in Seminar Room 5 (S5) at the Graduate Institute (Maison de la paix), and are followed by an apero open to the attending public. Connect to this week's seminar online using the event password pbNBJS3PD86.