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Listening to Colonial History

Echoes of Coercive Knowledge Production in Historical Sound Recordings from Southern Africa

by Anette Hoffmann

European archives hold historical voice recordings that were produced by linguists, ethnologists and musicologists during colonial rule in African countries. While these recordings reverberate with the polyphonic echoes of colonial knowledge production, to date, acoustic collections have rarely been consulted as sources of colonial history. In this book Anette Hoffmann engages with a Southern African audio-visual collection, which is located in five different institutions across Vienna, Austria. Several recordings collected by the anthropologist Rudolf Pöch in August 1908 have been retranslated for this book. These translations provide new insights into Pöch’s collecting expedition to the Kalahari. Pöch’s narrative of his heroic journey is called into question by the Naro speakers’ comments, which address colonial violence and criticise the research practices of the anthropologist. By attending to the spoken texts on the recordings and reconnecting them to photographs, ethnographic objects, archival documentation and Pöch’s travelogue, Hoffmann offers a different reading of this research trip into a war zone.

ISBN 9783906927398 | 172 pages | 216 x 140mm | 2023 | Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Namibia | Paperback




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