What surfaces when a library is burnt? What emerges from the ashes and ruins? Read an excerpt from Lost Libraries, Burnt Archives

The JRB presents an excerpt from Lost Libraries, Burnt Archives, an edited volume of short stories, artworks, poems and essays that engage with the tragic destruction of the African Studies Library at the University of Cape Town in April 2021.

Lost Libraries, Burnt Archives
Edited by Sindi-Leigh McBride and Julia Rensing
Michaelis Galleries, 2023

The book contains work by twenty-two contributors, including Koleka Putuma, Masande Ntshanga, Bongani Kona, and many more.

Lost Libraries, Burnt Archives is the result of a collaborative project with UCT, and responds to the ‘Of Smoke and Ash: Jagger Library Memorial Exhibition’ curated by Jade Nair and Duane Jethro at UCT.

This edited excerpt includes McBride and Rensing‘s Introduction; the essay ‘Photography and The Art of Archiving’, their interview with Lerato Maduna; and ‘Acts of Language, Acts of Image’, an essay with words by Danielle Bowler and artwork by Lady Skollie.

Read the excerpt:



Lost Libraries, Burnt Archives is available to download in full here.

The book also had a limited print run of one hundred copies, which were made freely available to university and public libraries, research institutions and specialised archives in South Africa and internationally. (Please contact the institution directly before visiting to confirm that the book has been shelved and is available.)

South Africa
Amazwi Museum for African literature
Campbell Collections, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Centre for Curating the Archive, University of Cape Town
Department of Visual Art, University of Johannesburg
Hiddingh Library, University of Cape Town
Iziko National Gallery
The Chancellor Oppenheimer Library, University of Cape Town
Michaelis Galleries, University of Cape Town
National Library of South Africa
Nelson Mandela University Library
North-West University Library
Sol Plaatje University Library
The Library of Things We Forgot to Remember, 44 Stanley
The Jack Ginsberg Center for the Book, Wits Art Museum
University of the Western Cape Library
UP Library, University of Pretoria
Walter Sisulu University Library
African Studies Centre, Leiden University
Basel University Library
Basler Afrika Bibliographien
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Centre for African Studies, Harvard University
Centre for African Studies, University of Basel
Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge
Department of African Studies, University of Cologne
Institute of African Studies, Columbia University
Nordic Africa Institute Library, Uppsala, Sweden
SOAS Library, University of London
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina

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