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CPM Research

Our research is primarily conducted in the Western Cape, but our work extends to other parts of southern and central Africa.

Interviews are recorded in a variety of languages, with a focus across the following research topics:

  • Forced removals under apartheid
  • Trauma, narrative and memory
  • Social impact of HIV/AIDS pandemic
  • Popular culture, music, oral performance
  • South African life stories
  • Refugee and migrant life stories
  • Sites of memory and heritage practices
  • Cape Town Street Stories

Major research projects during 2001 to 2010 included:

  • Forced removals to Atlantis and Mamre (80 interviews, English/Afrikaans transcribed and translated)
  • Langa heritage (56 interviews, English/Xhosa transcribed and translated)
  • Popular culture in Cape Town (60 interviews, English, Xhosa transcribed and translated)
  • Congolese and Nigerian Migration (110 interviews, English, French, Lingala transcribed and translated)
  • Trauma and Memory in Guguletu (32 interviews, Xhosa transcribed and translated)
  • Mediation of trauma in different communities (46 interviews English transcribed)
  • Forced removals from Ndabeni and Blouvlei (60 interviews English, Xhosa transcribed and translated)
  • Street Stories (400 interviews  English, Afrikaans, Xhosa)
  • Performing Stories (90 interviews Xhosa,Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, English)

During this period, CPM staff published 29 articles, delivered 30 conference papers and produced the following 5 collections:

  • S. Field (ed.) 2001. Lost Communities, Living Memories: Remembering Forced Removals in Cape Town. David Philip: Cape Town.
  • V. Bickford-Smith, S. Field and C. Glaser (eds.) 2001. ‘Special Edition: Oral History in the Western Cape’. African Studies vol.60 no.1.
  • S. Field, R. Meyer and F. Swanson (eds.) 2007. Imagining the City: Memories and Cultures in Cape Town. HSRC Press: Cape Town.
  • Special Edition: Approaching oral history. South African Oral Hisotry Journal, Vol60, No2.
  • R, Meyer, 2009. Streetstories from Klipfontein, Lansdowne and Main Road, CPM: Cape Town

The CPM presents various oral history and memory courses for on and off campus students.

Training modules include:

  • A 1st semester post-graduate course: ‘Oral History: Method and Practice and Theory’ (HST4034Z) which provides skills training in oral history interviewing and interpretation.
  • An under-graduate course ‘Memory, Identity and History’ (HST3037S) explores trauma and memory across case studies of the Holocaust, Apartheid and Rwanda, and the representation of trauma through oral history, films, photographs, cartoons and performances.
  • Short oral history courses for off-campus audiences such as archives, museums, NGOs and schools.

The CPM runs a seminar series called “Representations and politics of Memory.” In the last two years this programme has attracted speakers such as Italian oral historian Prof. Alessandro Portelli; Curator of the National Museum of American History, Pete Daniel, Argentinian historian Florentia Levin and SA photographer Paul Weinberg.

The CPM internship has been running for 6 years, and more than 20 students have been mentored through the annual program that involves intensive training of oral history methodology, interviewing skills and transcription. We also encourage and offer thesis/dissertation supervision to students across disciplines.

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