Remaking the urban

Heritage and transformation in Nelson Mandela Bay

Author: Naomi Roux

The book focuses on the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, using the city as a case study to read the ways in which memory is being written into South African urban space two decades after the end of apartheid. At the core of the book is the question of how history is written into public space, and how inscriptions of the past and its meanings are being challenged. This reading of public space and memory is located in a context where the promises of ‘reconciliation’ and the ‘rainbow nation’ are largely falling apart, and one in which South African cities remain in dire need of dramatic spatial and social transformation. The book is organised around four examples of memorial sites/practices, highlighting some of the ways in which public memory has been circumscribed by the state as well as the ways in which this circumscription has been contested. These include the Red Location Museum of Struggle, a highly contentious museum project; histories of forced removals in the suburb of South End; the activism and iconography of a group called the Amabutho, which was active in the city’s townships during the struggles of the 1980s; and heritage-related public art projects in the city centre. These examples collectively illuminate the spatial politics of memory in the twenty-first-century post-apartheid city, and the intersections between urban transformation and public memory.

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