Humanities Hubs are centres of knowledge with a focus on heritage. They offer ways to use existing resources to engage communities in creating or reproducing new ways of knowing. Humanities Hubs is primarily a research-based programme; it aims to catalyse and open new avenues for scholarship in the humanities and social sciences and to assist in and promote the HSS more generally, linking with the broader public, outside of universities. Liliesleaf is the Institute’s flagship Humanities Hub, funding having been awarded to the Liliesleaf Trust in March 2015 to establish a pilot programe. The hub’s theme is “Memory and History”; it is envisaged that by remembering and making sense of the past, we come to terms with our present and can imagine and construct our future. The Liliesleaf Hub has two main objectives: firstly, to develop an outreach programme aiming to address the issue of memory, the struggle against forgetting and the need to preserve and protect the memory of South Africa’s liberation struggle and hence, ultimately, her history; and secondly, highlighting why the humanities are essential and critical disciplines to study.
The Liliesleaf Hub has attracted thousands of local and international visitors eager to understand and engage with a seminal period in South Africa’s liberation struggle. Recognised as one of South
Africa’s leading heritage sites, Liliesleaf pays tribute and is a testament to the many lives that changed the political landscape of this country. The project has worked with a team of researchers, curriculum developers, historians and creatives to evolve as a dynamic platform for engagement. Humanities Hubs like Liliesleaf are intended not to be static, but alive and constantly evolving – offering possibilities for innovative learning and inclusivity in knowledge generation. They demonstrate that knowledge production happens not only within the walls of universities as physical places of learning, but also out there”, where communities live and engage.
The exhibitions and activities that form the Liliesleaf Hub provide opportunities for conversation, reflection and engaging with the past, but also for looking forward, for critical reflection, and for imagination and creative responses to our history. The components of the project tell the story of the liberation struggle in a fresh and appealing way. The intention was to prompt people to look at the past with new eyes, to find creative ways of interpreting our present social and political environments. Liliesfleaf visitors are inspired to discard reactive, obstructionist ways of expressing dissatisfaction and dissent, and find a new way forward – one bolstered by critical engagement and democratic discourse. To date other hubs have been identified, including the Wits Origins Humanities Hub, Hunterstoun Centre Humanities Hub and the Laboratory of Kinetic Objects.
To date other hubs have been identified, including:
- Freedom and Humanity Hub (Freedom Park, Gauteng);
- Migrant Workers’ Hub (Lwandle Museum, Western Cape);
- Theatre Humanities Hub (Market Theatre Foundation, Gauteng);
- Ex-Political Prisoners Project (Robben Island Museum, Western Cape);
- African Languages Literary Heritage Hub (Rhodes University, Eastern Cape);
- Factory of Art Humanities Hub (University of the Western Cape);
- Origins Hub (Wits Origins Centre, Gauteng);
- Land and Intellectual Heritage Hub (Hunterstoun Centre, University of Fort Hare, Eastern Cape);
- Community-based Memory Hub (University of Fort Hare, Liberation Struggle History Archives, Eastern Cape);
- Ecosystems and Indigenous Knowledge Hub (iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, KwaZulu-Natal);
- Mapungubwe Cultural Hub (Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site, Limpopo);