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Exchanging Symbols: Monuments and memorials in post-apartheid South Africa

Authors:
  • Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

T his book comprises eight essays that consider the politics and polemics of monuments in Africa in the wake of the #RhodesMustFall movement in 2015. The removal of the Rhodes statue from UCT main campus is the pivot on which the discussion of monuments as heritage in South Africa turns. It raised a number of questions about the implementation of heritage policy and the unequal deployment of memorials in the South African and other postcolonial landscapes. The essays in this volume are written by authors coming from different backgrounds and different disciplines. They address different aspects of this event and its aftermath, offering some intensive critique of existing monuments, analysing the successes of new initiatives, meditating on the visual resonances of all monuments and attempting to map ways of moving forward. In the essays in this book the authors tackle policy questions, aspects of history and some of the new monuments aimed at redress in the present South African climate. It is to be hoped that a reading of this book will inform the decisions made by politicians and culture brokers when they spend taxpayers' money on the erection of monuments. It would be refreshing if the artists commissioned to make such monuments could look at African traditions of figuration and commemoration which fall outside the monumental, and if the artists could be professional and theoretically informed of the ways in which monuments are commissioned, planned and accessed. www.africansunmedia.co.
This book comprises eight essays that consider the politics and polemics of monuments in
Africa in the wake of the #RhodesMustFall movement in 2015. The removal of the Rhodes
statue from UCT main campus is the pivot on which the discussion of monuments as
heritage in South Africa turns. It raised a number of questions about the implementation of
heritage policy and the unequal deployment of memorials in the South African and other
postcolonial landscapes. The essays in this volume are written by authors coming from different
backgrounds and different disciplines. They address different aspects of this event and its
aftermath, offering some intensive critique of existing monuments, analysing the successes of new
initiatives, meditating on the visual resonances of all monuments and attempting to map ways of
moving forward.
In the essays in this book the authors tackle policy questions, aspects of history and some of
the new monuments aimed at redress in the present South African climate. It is to be hoped
that a reading of this book will inform the decisions made by politicians and culture brokers
when they spend taxpayers’ money on the erection of monuments. It would be refreshing if the
artists commissioned to make such monuments could look at African traditions of figuration and
commemoration which fall outside the monumental, and if the artists could be professional and
theoretically informed of the ways in which monuments are commissioned, planned andaccessed.
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Exchanging Symbols
Monuments and memorials in post-apartheid South Africa
... HWIs experienced similar journeys. Deliberate conversation with one another as well as with HBIs must be encouraged to share lessons and experiences and to 22 For an overview of the impact of the #RhodesMustFall movement on statue-linked discourses in South Africa at large as well as the neglect of specifically post-apartheid statues and symbols in South Africa, see Nettleton and Fubah (2020). engage on the topic. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This book is a significant contribution to higher education globally in doing transformation and doing change in institutional culture. It is a powerful reference point and resource for transformation offices/social justice units in South Africa and globally as we continue to engage with the hard science of change. The book provides insight into the specific choices made by Stellenbosch University in relation to its location and healing institutionally harmed communities.
Chapter
This book is a significant contribution to higher education globally in doing transformation and doing change in institutional culture. It is a powerful reference point and resource for transformation offices/social justice units in South Africa and globally as we continue to engage with the hard science of change. The book provides insight into the specific choices made by Stellenbosch University in relation to its location and healing institutionally harmed communities.
Chapter
Full-text available
https://doi.org/10.52779/9781991201096/12 The visual images (visuals hereafter) in the hallways of the Arts and Social Sciences Building at Stellenbosch University (SU) allude to several issues. They depict various aspects of the violent removal of the Die Vlakte residents, some of whom lived on the very site of this building. From 2018 to 2020, while walking through this building on my way to teach my Postgraduate Certificate in Education Mathematical Literacy Teaching class, I began to notice these visuals. This period afforded me an opportunity to view and read the range of visuals and their related captions. Moreover, I started reading De Certeau’s (1984)‘walking in the city’ as a way to help me to think about this walking exercise and what it afforded me. Over time, ‘walking’ and ‘city’ acquired deeper meanings for De Certeau. The Arts and Social Sciences Building forms an integral space of SU, situated in peri-urban Stellenbosch, which becomes, in my view, De Certeau’s proverbial ‘city’. Like an index finger, my acts of walking, viewing and reading these visuals ‘point to’ a synchronic system (see De Certeau, 1984: 94) of a present/past set of historical, geographical, political and social issues. As for the visuals, I discovered that they originate from a visual arts1 project of Prof. Elmarie Costandius and her students. In addition, I started reading the text of a document titled “Visual Redress Policy” at Stellenbosch University”, 2 which alerted me to the thinking behind the visuals and similar redress efforts at other SU spaces. This chapter is based on, and framed by, two data sources, namely words or expressions such as the name ‘Arts and Social Sciences Building’ and selected visuals related to Prof Costandius’ visual arts project. Also, in the case of the visuals there are accompanying texts, namely expressions or words.
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