A historical and conceptual analysis of the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies (APMHS)
Morakinyo, Olusegun Nelson
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In 1998 the University of the Western Cape together with the University of Cape Town, and the Robben Island Museum introduced a Post-graduate Diploma in Museum and Heritage Studies. This programme was innovative in that not only did it bring together two universities in a programme where the inequalities of resources derived from their apartheid legacies was recognised, but it also formally incorporated an institution of public culture that was seeking to make a substantial imprint in the post-apartheid heritage sphere as part of its structure. In 2003 this programme attracted substantial funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and was rebranded as the African Program in Museum and Heritage Studies (APMHS). While this rebranding of the programme might seem to be innocently unproblematic and commendable as part of the effort at re-insertion of South Africa into Africa after the isolation of apartheid, an analysis of the concepts employed in the rebranding raises serious theoretical, conceptual, and disciplinary questions for heritage studies as an academic discipline and for its connections with other fields, especially the interdisciplinary study of Africa. What are the implications of a programme that brings together the concepts of 'African-Heritage-Studies'? Does the rebranding signify a major epistemological positioning in the study of Africa or has it chosen to ignore debates on the problematic of the conjunction of the concepts? This study address these issues through a historical and philosophical analysis of the programme, exploring how it was developed both in relation to ideas of heritage and heritage studies in Africa and, most importantly by re-locating it in debates on the changing meaning of 'Africa' in African studies.
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