Material Culture group presents talks by Mandela archivist, food scholar

A lecture series exploring the role of material culture in the humanities and social sciences presents two speakers in October.

Verne Harris, personal archivist to South African political icon Nelson Mandela, presents a talk titled Archive, Memory and South African Futures at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, in the Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Ave.

Darra Goldstein, founding editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, presents The Progress of the Fork: From Diabolical to Divine at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, in the Keck Classroom (G52), Pettengill Hall, 4 Andrews Road (Alumni Walk).

The lectures are open to the public at no cost. They are sponsored by the Material Culture Working Group, an interdisciplinary team of Bates faculty exploring ways to teach about the roles that material objects play in advancing and resisting cultural hierarchies based on race, class, gender, sexuality and national identity. The effort is supported by the Mellon Innovation Fund at Bates.

For more information, please call 207-786-8296 or 207-786-6437.

Harris will also participate in an open discussion with those interested in cultural heritage, memory and justice from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12, in the Muskie Archives.

Harris, a leading figure in the field of archival thinking, heads the Memory Programme at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, a unique facility offering public access to resources documenting the life and times of Mandela. He has written extensively on issues of social justice, cultural memory and reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa.

Harris participated in initiatives that transformed South Africa’s post-apartheid public record system, including the African National Congress’s Archives Committee, the Art and Culture Task Group and the Consultative Forum.

Harris’ books include Exploring Archives: An Introduction to Archival Ideas and Practice in South Africa (National Archives of South Africa, 1997), A Prisoner in the Garden: Opening Nelson Mandela’s Prison Archive (Penguin, 2005) and Archives and Justice (Society of American Archivists, 2007).

Goldstein is Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Russian at Williams College. An expert in international cuisines, her Bates presentation will use the evolution of forks over the centuries to trace the progression of manners. She’ll explore how changes in fork design reflect changing ideas about food fashions, proper hygiene and table service.

Gastronomica, the journal of which Goldstein is founding editor, encourages dialogue about the relationship among between food, culture, history and representation. She has also published numerous books and articles on Russian literature, culture and cuisine.

In addition to her scholarly work, Goldstein has authored four cookbooks including A Taste of Russia (Russian Information Services, second revised edition 1999), a finalist for the Tastemaker Award, and The Georgian Feast (University of California Press, 1999) winner of the 1994 IACP Julia Child Award for Cookbook of the Year.

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