Nomusa Makhubu, a Mandela Washington Fellow for Young African Leaders at Harvard University, will present “ArtRage and the Politics of Reconciliation” at noon November 27, in Prairie Room South of the Bone Student Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Makhubu is a senior lecturer of art history at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art in South Africa. With a master’s degree in fine arts and a Ph.D. in art history from Rhodes University, Makhubu’s research focuses on art interventionism, popular culture, and social engagement in African visual art.

Her talk will focus on the visual symbolism of the Shackville protests in 2016, and the raw sentiment expressed in those protests that have subsequently been cloaked by the rhetoric of reconciliation, diversity, and inclusiveness. The Shackville protests were a student-led effort to bring attention to the critical shortage of affordable housing at the University of Cape Town. Angry demonstrations—precipitated by the fragmentary nature of post-1994 South African public universities—were targeted specifically at artworks. Retreating from often-limited forms of “open public debate,” recent creative protests have made an impact by engaging with public visual symbols. This necessitates re-examining the kinds of decisions that were taken about existing symbols and art in public spaces. Many of these decisions were aimed at subduing emotions about the injustices of apartheid, healing wounds, and constructing “common” narratives as public memory. This talk will, while recognizing the place-specific nuances of the current reconciliation rhetoric in South Africa, will analyze the visual imposition of the politics of reconciliation in the public sphere.

The talk is co-sponsored by Illinois State University’s College of Fine Arts, School of Art, and MECCPAC.