Ben Verghese

Fellow: Department of History, MA

At the time of writing, I continue to adjust being new to UWC, a new fellow at CHR, and a new co-parent (to an awesome 11 year old). Since 2013, I have been relocating from London (in the UK) to Cape Town and am grateful to consider each a home away from home. During this time, I have oscillated between substitute teaching (mostly in south London primary schools) and research/production tasks for the mutable pan African outfit Chimurenga (most recently on Festac ’77, previously with Pan African Space Station and the Chronic). All the while, continuing to make various attempts at finding (other) ways to write about (or with) music and music-making.

My MA research project draws upon experience(s)/study/labour from these oscillations in an effort to consider people, pedagogies and potential(s) of a music school which functioned in Cape Town from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s. Of this place/project, I wonder, what were the collective desires of the people who participated? What memories continue within the bodies and creative expression of the people involved? What echoes remain in/across Cape Town or further? Did (and can) music-making function as a practice of freedom/resistance? How did hopes/seeds for a socialist future regress into (neoliberal) capitalist realism?

Interests also include collectivity, consciousness-raising groups (reading/conversation/study), dancing, feminism, friendship(s), independent publishing, liberatory music(s), libraries and social centres.

The CHR in the time of a global pandemic

In line with protocols introduced by government towards the prevention and containment of the COVID-19 virus, the CHR suspended its public events, seminars, and general fellowship program until further notice.  We wish CHR fellows, students, artists, colleagues and friends, as well as our partners and funders in South Africa and across the world much strength and compassion in these difficult times.


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