Author Archives: Christian A. Williams

About Christian A. Williams

Postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape. His doctoral thesis, completed at the University of Michigan in 2009, examines camps that SWAPO administered for Namibian exiles living in Africa's front-line states during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Williams continues to study liberation movement camps, examining how their histories circulate and become incorporated into national and humanitarian discourses. Recent publications include "National History in Southern Africa: Reflections on the 'Remember Cassinga?' Exhibition," Kronos 36 (2010), and "Ordering the Nation: SWAPO in Zambia, 1974–1976," Journal of Southern African Studies 37 (2011).

Silence, Voices, and “the Camp”: Perspectives on and from Southern Africa’s Exile Histories

In contrast to literature which emphasizes how camps render refugees silent by removing them from political life, Williams views camps as sites which produce voices as inhabitants claim belonging in a national community. Drawing from research on camps administered by the Namibian liberation movement SWAPO in exile, he demonstrates how Namibians have voiced claims in and through camps over time. Williams maintains that these voices reflect unique qualities of Southern Africa’s liberation movement camps and of the ethnographic/historical research methods through which one may study them today. They are, therefore, especially productive sites from which to rethink “the camp” and the humanitarian discourses through which camp inhabitants are consistently portrayed.