Nursing Nostalgia: Archival traces and the social lives of Zimbabweans in Britain


UK and Zimbabwe

Synopsis and Position

This project seeks to engage people as living archives, centring histories and narratives of community that are not always present in the “official archive”. Archiving as active, dynamic and connected to questions of knowledge production as collaborative, shared and accessible. Additionally, this project explores the material items migrants bring, their function and meaning to them – the stories ‘objects’ hold. Furthermore, adding to a vocabulary that refuses the colonial hierarchies and ordering of knowledge, the project seeks to engage artists in Zimbabwe as collaborators, including their interactions with diaspora in the creation of archival representations; recognising their ability to ‘archive’ through capture – the affective dimensions of ‘return’ using different forms of creative expression.

Objectives and Methods

To explore alternative ways of archival practice

To understand the circulation of materialities, the knowledge that they produce and meanings associated

To establish how artwork and craft is shaped by diasporic movements and requirements

Qualitative approach, we intend to carry out interviews with Zimbabwean healthcare workers in Britain as well as Zimbabwean artists engaged in the construction of materials that represent ‘return’. Collating the narratives and practices that locate the “things” in everyday cultural practice, revealing the life of “objects” outside the archive as a static space of storage and documentation, thus “enlivening” objects. Through open ended inquiry and conversation, we will elicit from our collaborators the material and nonmaterial aspects of their experiences of mobility. Collaboratively excavating and connecting these different moments and experiences as part of histories of mobility and inhabiting the elsewhere, that do not always seem coherent, but are sutured by the kinds of postcolonial ruptures and crises that produce them – the shared experiences of making life “mhiri kwemakungwa”, “kudiaspora” (abroad).

Workshops and Events