History Salon: Archie Dick "Common Readers at the Cape (South Africa), c. 1650 to 1850"

Please join us for the first History Salon of the academic year. Archie Dick, professor in the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria, will present his paper, "Common Readers at the Cape (South Africa), c. 1650 to 1850."


This paper examines the reading cultures of Cape Town’s slaves, free blacks, and labourers (after emancipation in 1838) as common readers. It reveals how they used literacy practices to represent themselves and their world views. Primary sources include inventories, auction lists, censuses, official records, and a slave’s notebook. A special methodological feature is the use of records of organizations and institutions that provide evidence of reading. The Dutch East India Company (DEIC or VOC), a Slave Lodge school, Muslim religious schools, missionary societies, and book and tract societies proved fruitful for finding this evidence. I conclude that Michel De Certeau’s contrast between strategies and tactics in relation to the power relations of the reading cultures of common readers are too stark, and that in fact they tend to act upon each other more strongly in practice.

Speaker Biography:

Archie Dick holds a bachelor's and an honours bachelor's degree in librarianship from the University of the Western Cape, a master's degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, and a Ph.D. from the University of Cape Town. He worked in public libraries in the Western Cape Province and taught at the University of the Western Cape (1982-1992) and at Unisa (1993-2003), where he was a deputy dean in the Faculty of Humanities from 2000 to 2003. Archie is currently full professor in the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria. He was a visiting professor at Wayne State University in 1997 and the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2007. He has authored a monograph, The philosophy, politics, and economics of information, and more than 75 scholarly and popular articles and chapters in books, some of which have been translated into Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. His book, The hidden history of South Africa’s book and reading cultures, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2012. He serves on the editorial boards of several national and international LIS journals and as the reviews editor of the historical journal, New Contree. He was the deputy-chairperson of the Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) Committee of IFLA from 2009 to 2011 and is currently chairperson of the National Council of Library and Information Services (NCLIS).


126 LIS

Event Date: 

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 4:00pm

For disability-related accommodations, contact the event organizer or MT Hudson (217-333-0885, mthdson@illinois.edu).