PhD Research Explores South African Heritage Collections of Indigenous Material Culture
Dr Mathodi Motsamayi was thrilled to graduate with his PhD in Art history from the Centre for Visual Arts (CVA) in the College of Humanities.
His research exposes the inadequate systematic records and lack of proper contextual methodological documentation in South African heritage collections of indigenous material culture.
His appraisal of Western museum methods of cataloging shows entrenched formal categorisations of cultural heritage and those cultural objects in South African museums face decontextualisation and misinterpretation. Motsamayi is concerned that local curators and researchers face huge challenges to update archival records.
He recommends practical ways to improve the interpretation of African cultural items, particularly regarding neglected Sotho-Tswana indigenous pottery and other vessels associated with past agricultural activities given scant and dated scholarly information made available. His PhD also covers aspects of agriculture.
Motsamayi is currently working as a Post-Doctoral fellow in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg. He is grateful for his family members and colleagues at UKZN and abroad for their support throughout his PhD tribulations and triumphs.
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan