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The ‘everyday’ and public history

In 2017 the Wits History Workshop was awarded a prestigious grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to undertake research on ‘The Everyday and Public History’.

Rooted in the History Workshop’s tradition of social history, the project seeks to give sustained attention to the ‘everyday’ as a conceptual frame through which to understand social, cultural and political processes, and to simultaneously enable an engagement with everyday practices of historical knowledge production in the field of public history.

The experience of everyday life has been explored through thematic areas that include (but are not limited to): politics and everyday life, affect, leisure and space.

The project is interdisciplinary and fosters collaborations between students, researchers and individuals and groups engaged in the production of public histories. It hosts workshops on public history and methodology, writing retreats, reading groups, public lectures and supports public history projects.

Recent examples of the latter are the exhibitions ‘The Complete Worker’ by photographer William Matlala (2018) (watch an interview with William Matlala on SABC), and ‘Drawn Lines’ by cultural worker and visual artist Judy Ann Seidman (2019) (read the article by Arianna Lissoni on Seidman's exhibition)