UK (London Metropolitan University) Anti-Apartheid Legacy: Material Culture, Heritage and Now

CREATURE and the Liliesleaf Trust (TLTU) have jointly appointed London-based artist-researcher and London Met alumna Dr Ekua McMorris to work on the project, “Anti-Apartheid Legacy: Material Culture, Heritage and Now”. Focusing on material culture derived from the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM), the project examines the ways in which objects and material artefacts unfold the legacy of AAM.

New interpretations of AAM heritage and its contemporary relevance are illuminated through archival study, visual and oral histories, and documentation of commonplace artefacts that have been collected over the years from a range of people involved in the AAM in Britain.

This has involved exploring the collections of Christabel Gurney, activist, historian, and editor of Anti-Apartheid News between 1969 to 1980; Tom Bell, who was recruited to smuggle into South Africa Bucket Bombs (harmless devices) that exploded ANC leaflets into the air; Jeff Howarth, London Met’s Academic Liaison Librarian for our university’s TUC Library Collection which holds archival materials from the AAM.

Previously project curator of Sowing Roots at the Garden Museum in London, Dr McMorris said: “I have always been interested in archival objects, photographs, and oral histories. This important research project examines the history of what everyday objects, in this case, badges, posters, flyers, suitcases contain, when revisited through a contemporary lens.

These objects tell a story through how cultural understanding is produced in the past and asks us to consider how these everyday objects and oral histories may produce new understandings legacy of the anti-apartheid movement.”

Working closely with Professor Wessie Ling, Director of CREATURE and Caroline Kamana, Director at TLTU, Dr McMorris will study existing material artefacts in Anti-Apartheid focused archives across the country to identify a range of objects for investigation.

Together with the oral histories and material artefacts she collected from a wide range of people who are connected to AAM, they will be documented on TLTU’s online platform. Dr McMorris will present the preliminary research findings from the project in an upcoming CREATURE seminar.