Exploring discontinuity in digital representations of Sarah Baartman: a critical posthumaninst perspective on the ‘Hottentot Venus’ and the implications for digital curation

Richard Higgs will present the Department of Archaeology seminar with a talk entitled, "Exploring discontinuity in digital representations of Sarah Baartman: a critical posthumaninst perspective on the ‘Hottentot Venus’ and the implications for digital curation". 

Abstract:

Discontinuity is an inherent, constitutive and distinctive property of digital signals. Despite the illusion of continuity created by virtuality in electronic media, any digital information is necessarily fragmented; a fragmentation that persists through signal, medium, space, time and sense-making in any digital representation. My research explores the implications of digital discontinuity for the curation of surrogate and derivative artefacts of a selected historical phenomenon: the exhibition and (re)construction of Sarah Baartman as the ‘Hottentot Venus’. A critical posthumanist lens on the topic seeks to avoid both the techno-euphoria of transhumanism and the Enlightenment humanist agenda that led to the ethically reprehensible co-option of a Black female body. It seeks to problematise the assumptions that are often implicit in representing the past in the digital present.

Richard Higgs is a lecturer in the Department of Knowledge & Information Stewardship in the Faculty of Humanities. He specialises in Digital Curation, but also lectures in the Library and Information Studies courses. He holds a Masters in Creative Writing from UCT and a Masters in Language Sciences from the University of Montpellier, France. He has worked in many fields, including as a high school teacher and management consultant. He is currently working on his PhD on the topic of digital representations of the so-called Hottentot Venus.

Mon, 22 Jul 2019 - 13:00
Venue: 

Rm. 3.10, 3rd floor of the Beattie building, Upper Campus UCT

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