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Heritage Formation and the Senses in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Aesthetics of Power

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... Photo: Bruno Braquehais, Commune de Paris, la colonne Vendôme à terre. Courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris movement of 2015, targeting the statue of Cecil Rhodes dominating over the University of Cape Town(Jethro, 2019); the spectacular dumping into Bristol harbor of the statue to slave trader Edward Colston in June 2020 during a Black Lives Matter protest; the toppling of a statue of Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar by Indigenous protestors in the Columbian city of Popayán in September 2020; and the ongoing debates in the United States about the future of the statues to the Confederacy. Current debates may be unusually intense, but the mechanisms are not new. ...
... They were often painful and difficult, described as the struggle of a centralizing impulse attempting to pull highly diverse societies together under an ill-fitting political entity (Scott, 1998). The ways in which aesthetics and ideas have been coopted into nation-and state-building projects have illustrated this, with competing cultural, linguistic and historical approaches used to define 'authentic' statehoods (Jethro, 2020;Tendi, 2010;Vogel, 1991). ...
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This article examines recent attempts to create specifically African forms of modernist political architecture that draw on ‘traditional’ or ‘pre‐colonial’ aesthetic forms and ideas. Taking examples of three prestigious structures – the presidential palace in Ghana, the parliament in Malawi and the Northern Cape regional parliament in South Africa – the article shows how vernacular ideas have been incorporated into state‐of‐the‐art political architecture, producing new or explicitly ‘African’ forms of modernism. It explores how such buildings, which draw on ‘invented traditions’, are used alongside conventional, monolithic representations of the state to produce ‘invented modernisms’ that both uphold and question the African state as a project of modernity.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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While the socialist state in China has attempted to elevate the labour of working people as a symbol of national identity, it restricts rural migrant workers’ access to public goods and equal citizenship rights. While rural migrants perform the public identity of the hard worker in order to claim both respect and benefits that go beyond legal recognition, the value of their hard work is also constrained by dubious state institutions and particularistic relationships. In rural-urban migration and market expansion, money mediates the imagination of the nation, but it also devalues rural migrants’ labour, highlighting the social inequality and disjunction between rural and urban, the rich and ordinary people, within the nation. Rural migrants imagine their inclusion in the nation through investment opportunities which always involve an opaque state.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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Nationalism remains a compelling ideological force and is the most important marker of collective identity in modern times. It inspires the idea of the nation by forging strong bonds of solidarity through the invocation of pre-existing ethnic, cultural or religious loyalties. Recurrent political conflicts in Iran have often been driven by nationalist ideologies. This chapter demonstrates the central role of the rivalry between secular and religious nationalisms in shaping Iran’s national identity. The interplay of these two nationalisms in the country has left national identity torn between modernity and tradition for more than a century. Rather than a clear break, however, what distinguishes the two nationalist persuasions are differences in the degree of religious or secular overtones respectively: secular nationalists have drawn on underlying religious support, while blatantly religious stances have had to adjust themselves to the demands of a modern secular state. Both of these nationalisms have tended to conceal the real diversity of political interests, but thus far they have failed to build an inclusive and secure national identity for Iran, leading to political instability and crisis.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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This chapter makes a set of three interconnected arguments. The first argument, which critically binds the volume together, is that rather than seeing contemporary politics in terms of globalization eroding the nation state or its persistence regardless of globalization, what characterizes the world is the globalization of the nation form. Second, by showing nationalism’s relationship with violence it underlines the need to interrogate the efficacy and morality of the nation state as a form of polis. Third, in dialogue with Arjun Appadurai’s productive criticism of nationalism, it makes the contention that instead of being informed exclusively by the present and the diaspora (as in Appadurai’s writings), imaginings of a postnational world should equally account for the pre- and anti-national forms of thoughts prior to the World War II. To this end, it discusses Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938), poet-philosopher of undivided India, and Hasan al-Banna (d. 1949), activist-reformer and founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. The second and third arguments thus outline arenas for future decolonial anthropological and other works on nationalism and culture more generally. With a description of the volume’s manifold theoretical and methodological distinctions, the chapter concludes with an outline of chapters ahead.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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Viewing the historical development of Chinese Christianity, this chapter argues that, far from being a static concept, nationalism has constantly been constructed and interpreted. Subject to different political and economic contexts, the patriotism of Chinese Christians has taken various forms. From the early twentieth century until the 1950s, their nationalism was primarily anti-imperialist. Following the Communist Party’s assumption of power in 1949, Chinese Protestants split into two groups based on theological differences and distinct understandings of patriotism. Since China’s ‘opening up’ in 1979, the country has experienced an unexpected Christian revival and a corresponding rise in nationalism. Since the 1990s, a new wave of nationalist sentiment has emerged, one that has fashioned Muslims as a new Other.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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This chapter critically evaluates the corpus of writings by Peter van der Veer, a Dutch anthropologist described by Dipesh Chakrabarty as ‘one of the foremost scholars in comparative studies of religion, nationalism, and urban life in Asia’. Divided into three parts, in part one I dwell on van der Veer’s work from 1985 to 1994, discussing his contributions to the study of Hinduism, orientalism and nationalism. In part two, I analyse his works during the second phase, that is, from 1995 to the present. Though diverse, I have arranged the analysis of these works under the overarching category of comparison. The final brief section identifies the style and mode of van der Veer’s interventions, the sine qua non of which I call, after Nietzsche, ‘theorization with a hammer’. In the conclusion, I highlight themes and questions that van der Veer’s works do not squarely address but that gainfully work as analytical enablers of future research.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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This chapter reflects on the issues raised in the volume. It examines specifically the history of violence and ethno-religious purification in nationalism. The chapter deals with examples from Europe, Iran, India, and China, showing some general patterns and differences.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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Criticizing the concept of culture as bounded, static and intrinsically connected to the nation, Peter van der Veer emphasized global connections and showed how global notions like the nation or religion are translated locally. This emphasis on global connections took him from India, his first ethnographic region, back to Europe—Britain and the Netherlands in particular—before he moved on to work on China. This ‘enigma of return’ perspective stirred up received ideas within the academic milieus in these countries. My aim in this chapter is to try and do something similar by returning to questions about religion, the secular and the nation after working on similar issues in Pakistan. I do this by rereading novels from the 1960s and 1970s that not only expressed changing ways of thinking and living, but also took these ideas further. I argue that the Dutch literary scene reflects the secular culture of the post-war generation, which still informs political debates about the place of religion, such as Islam, in the nation in the contemporary Netherlands. I also argue that contemporary secular culture is artistically and creatively barren in comparison to what it was in the 1960s and 1970s.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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Today Hindutva has become hegemonic to the extent that Muslims not only have to fear for their way of life but also for their own bare lives. The election of Narendra Modi as prime minister is a sign of the changes that have occurred from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-led Hindutva campaigns of the 1980s to the firm grip on government by the BJP-RSS today. Analyses of ‘the success of India’s democracy’ (Kohli, The Success of India’s Democracy . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001; Banerjee, Why India Votes . New Delhi: Routledge, 2014) never seem to take fully into account the importance of religion and religious divisions. This chapter attempts to address the consequences of the rise to power of Hindu civilizational nationalism.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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In the 2019 Chinese sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth by Frant Guo, audiences are catapulted into a dystopian 2061. The movie brings to mind a strong Hollywood genre style and history. This comparative logic runs the danger of accusing China of making a belated copy feeding into a desire to assert its Chineseness. Peter van der Veer has shown how pivotal comparative analyses are to understanding complexity and resisting generalizations. Anthropology is well equipped for this task, but as I argue in this chapter, so are cultural studies and cultural analysis. Drawing on Peter van der Veer’s work in tandem with Rey Chow, this chapter reads the movie as a translation of the sci-fi genre that betrays both its assumed origin and the copy.Keywords The Wandering Earth ChinaScience fictionCinemaChinesenessOvercoding
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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In this chapter, I focus on the role of Chinese Christian churches in language socialization and identity formation among Chinese migrant families in Berlin. Based on ethnographic data collected during extensive fieldwork lasting two years, I examine a variety of activities at the Chinese Christian Church of Berlin and analyse the strategies the church leadership pursues to attract more Chinese immigrant families. I argue that the Chinese Christian Church of Berlin has not only created new paths enhancing Chinese language capacity, it has also provided a space for moral socialization and utilized religious discourse and practice to shape a nationalist identity for Chinese immigrants in the diaspora.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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As a unique global historical event, a fundamental transfer from a Muslim ‘minority’ community to a Hindu ‘majority’ community took place in the modern north Indian ‘Hindustani’ music scene in terms of the number of musicians, the type of patronage (from courts to middle classes and the modern public sphere), music practice and audiences. This process of ‘Hinduization’ was largely the result of the music reforms initiated by elitist Hindus, who aimed to make Indian music modern, national and scientific, as well as spiritual. Successively, their efforts led to the stigmatization and subsequent marginalization of Muslim musicians. By taking music as a lens, the chapter sheds light upon the relationship between ‘religion’, nation and state in the context of processes of modernization and the global circulation of ideas.
... I therefore argue for attention to be paid to the sensory politics contained within competing discourses and practices of religion in public spaces. Much as the post-apartheid state sought to link its authority and heritage claims to sensory calibration (Jethro 2020), the emerging radical politics around student protest movements and against neoliberalism have also entailed a sensory contestation. This chapter thus treats the examples described above as instances of competing ethical and political claims to selfhood, sensory propriety and the nation. ...
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This chapter develops the concept of digital imaginaries in order to examine collective visions of the Chinese nation state that are rooted in the promise of digital technologies and to highlight the crucial relationship between national imaginaries and everyday experiences of digital platforms in China. Drawing on thirteen months of fieldwork in Beijing, I explore the interplay between experiences of digital platforms, the narratives presented by technology companies and government discourses on digitization. To explore this interplay, the chapter focuses on the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba as an important intermediary between Chinese citizens and the government. Alibaba’s self-proclaimed mission to digitally connect and provide opportunities to all Chinese echoes and gives purchase to the Chinese government’s claim that digital technologies can and have unified the socially, ethnically, economically and regionally fragmented space of the nation state. It also provides Chinese citizens with the experience of participating in Chinese modernity. Because of its double function, Alibaba plays a key role in connecting Chinese citizens’ experiences of digital participation to the digital imaginaries of a unified nation state.
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This article takes as its point of departure the recent wave of contestations relating to colonial-era monuments in Europe. While the toppling of monuments has long been a part of political regime change, recent attacks on monuments need to be understood instead, not as celebrations of a change that has already occurred, but as attempts to affect ‘mnemonic regime change’ as part of a larger struggle for racial equality and social justice. Monuments are materialisations of larger narratives that operate within a broader culture of memory; at the same time, they have a particular role to play in mnemonic contestations since they offer a physical platform for public performances of adherence to, or dissent from, dominant understandings of collective identity and memory. Using insights from the field of cultural memory studies, this article illustrates these dynamics with detailed reference to the controversy around the Edward Colston statue in Bristol. It argues that its dramatic toppling in June 2020 was part of a much longer and slower two-track process whereby the narrative underpinning Colston was undermined and an alternative narrative of Bristol’s complicity in the slave trade was unforgotten. It concludes by reflecting on the importance but also the limits of memory activism focussed on statues.
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The museum and heritage sector has been shaken by debates over how to address colonialism, migration, Islamophobia, LGBTI+ and multiple other forms of difference. This major multi-researcher ethnography of museums and heritage in Berlin provides new insight into how ›diversity‹ is understood and put into action in museums and heritage. Exploring new initiatives and approaches, the book shows how these work – or do not – in practice. By doing so, it highlights ways forward – for research and action – for the future. The fieldwork locations on which this book is based include the Humboldt Forum, the Museum of Islamic Art, the Museum für Naturkunde, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, as well as Berlin streets and protests.
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Diverse memorials of the Nazi-engendered Holocaust are legion in today’s world. They sustain a sense of painful heritage for that genocide’s survivors and their descendants while also providing ethical and political lessons and reminders for present and future generations. While the historical record provides evidence of many other massacres, some of them genocides, those committed by European colonialism in particular have been only minimally memorialised or monumentalised; and scant literature exists about the pain they have caused or the consequent, often unspoken, legacy of their victims’ and their descendants’ long-term suffering and marginalisation. This often results in little substantive, “formal” memorialisation available for mobilisation in efforts to effect recognition for those who have so suffered and, ultimately, to effect restitution for them and their descendants. The article uses present-day South African examples to illustrate the consequences, in an already profoundly divided society rife with identitarian thinking, of how such unequal memorialisation reproduces persisting senses of colonial suppression and exacerbates structural impediments to achieving social justice and equality.
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In South Africa, previous analyses of religious nationalism turn on the apartheid regime and its close ties to the Dutch Reformed Church. Since the fall of apartheid, democracy and pluralism have been emphasized as the discourse of the new South Africa, which aims to accommodate all of South Africa’s many religious traditions. Together with decades of neoliberal economic policy, the outcome is that in South Africa private individuals and organizations make claims on public spaces as rate-payers and property-owners, in the process revealing normative assumptions about proper and improper religions. Drawing attention to two instances of the manipulation of animal bodies in public spaces, the chapter reveals the close connections between religion, animal sacrifice, racial hierarchy and conflicts over the use of and access to public spaces. The public practice of animal sacrifice reveals the existence of a sensory politics enacted by marginalized groups through which entrenched normativities about proper and improper bodies, substances and religions are contested in the name of a future nation to come.
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Concerned with how nationalist cultural codes are embedded in everyday life, studies of “nationalism-from-below” mistake nationalist meanings for the contents of official messages. Rather than studying the reception of spectacles and symbols produced from above, the article suggests looking at unofficial nationalism and focusing on the nationalist meanings of traditions and customs—especially those related to ritual and food—that are common to broad strata of the population but have almost no state involvement. Using the anthropological history of Israeli Independence Day as an exemplary case, and focusing on how people spend their country’s national day, the article examines the failure of official nationalism to design the holiday’s popular traditions. Next it surveys the development of what has become the popular mode of celebrating the day—the picnic and cookout. In due course, this practice was ritualized and iconized as representing “Israeliness,” an identity that is more ambivalent than the seamless images circulated from above. I argue that the meanings of unofficial practices, because of their triviality, lie not in the symbolic codes they enact, but rather in the synchronicity that ritualizes and iconizes a “way of life,” forms national solidarity, and imbues the performance with nationalist meanings.
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In 1945, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded as an intergovernmental agency aimed at fostering peace, humanitarianism, and intercultural understanding. Its mission stemmed from a European organization called the International Committee on Intellectual Co-operation, founded by such prominent figures as Henri Bergson, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Mann. Often critiqued for its inherent Eurocentrism, UNESCO and its World Heritage program today remain embedded within modernist principles of "progress" and "development" and subscribe to the liberal principles of diplomacy and mutual tolerance. However, its mission to combat conflict, destruction, and intolerance, while noble and much needed, increasingly falls short as recent, much-publicized conflicts over World Heritage sites in Cambodia, Israel, Palestine, Mali, Crimea, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria have underlined.
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Providing examples from the islands of the Indian Ocean Region, this article focuses on the multisensory nature of storytelling and listening. Drawing on anthropological fieldwork in the region (1998–2016), the author proposes a sensuous epistemology that turns on listening to “sense”. She reveals that storytelling can be a profoundly sensuous experience that elicits emotional and physical responses in both the teller and listener. The sensuous quality of stories enable the listener to fully encounter politically inscribed, complex social experiences. Ultimately, the article advances a notion of listening as sense-work, thereby deepening sensory scholarship’s recent, politically reflexive analysis on listening to hear.
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We don’t know much about the smells of the past. Yet, odours play an important role in our daily lives: they affect us emotionally, psychologically and physically, and influence the way we engage with history. Can this lead us to consider certain smells as cultural heritage? And if so, what would be the processes for the identification, protection and conservation of those heritage smells? In order to answer these questions, the connection between olfaction and heritage was approached in three ways: (1) through theoretical analysis of the concept and role of olfaction in heritage guidelines, leading to identification of places and practices where smell is fundamental to their identity, (2) through exploration of the evidence for use of smells in heritage as a tool to communicate with audiences; and (3) through experimental evaluation of the techniques and methods for analysing and archiving the smells, therefore enabling their documentation and preservation. We present this through the framework of Significance Assessment—Chemical Analysis—Sensory Analysis—Archiving. The smell of historic paper was chosen as the case study, based on its well-recognized cultural significance and available research. Odour characterization was achieved by collecting visitor descriptions of a historic book extract through a survey, and by conducting a sensory evaluation at a historic library. These were combined with the chemical information on the VOCs sampled from both a historic book and a historic library, to create the Historic Book Odour Wheel, a novel documentation tool representing the first step towards documenting and archiving historic smells.
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Wine tourism, which is growing and developing on a global scale, is widely considered a driver of economic and social development in rural areas. Limited job opportunities and unemployment are prevalent in most rural areas, particularly in South Africa. In 2015, the South African wine industry generated close to 300,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities. A geographical analysis of the development and current state of wine tourism in the region can assist in the country's efforts to develop a new strategy to enhance and preserve wine tourism in the future. Wine tourism development is analysed from a nodes, network and winescape perspective using the results from a national questionnaire survey. This mostly quantitative approach explains the wine tourism development over more than 40 years from a supply-side perspective including its wine tourism product portfolio and in terms of its physical footprint. Wine tourism development commenced from only three pioneer open cellar doors in 1971, to network formation of 21 wine routes and today boasting well-established wine tourism destinations. The Stellenbosch-Franschhoek-Paarl nexus emerges as South Africa's premier winescape, as being a well-established destination in its mature life cycle phase. Strong evidence of hierarchical differentiation between the wineries of the more established wine tourism regions has emerged. The impact of the wine tourism resorts on the smaller wineries has yet to be determined in the context of the resilience of the whole region. The development of wine tourism is also responsible for the transformation of rural landscapes and especially in the regions that have the most developed wine routes. These regions need higher-level protection (especially the cultural and natural resource bases) in the form of an ‘agricultural reserve’ or the declaration of a ‘national heritage site’.
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The article investigates how the Durban newspaper The Mercury covered the renaming of a large number of streets in Durban. Through analysis of selected newspaper articles combined with interviews with some of the central journalists covering the name changes, the article seeks to study the renaming process from different perspectives. Questions of identity politics, collective memory, rewriting of history and postcolonial discourses in the era of democracy are issues dealt with. The article also touches upon the increasing tendency to categorize the diverse South African media audiences into socio-economic groups, and the challenges that may arise from this in terms of creating, representing and reaching a complex nation.
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This article provides critical engagement with cultural heritage-making processes conducted by stakeholders and interest groups within the UNESCO's intangible heritage paradigm. By tracking the road of Peru's cuisine to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (the ICH List) and focusing on the turning points during food's shift from culinary to heritage status, the aim is to shed light on the political and economic forces that shape the meanings of food heritage. This article draws on recent research conducted at the intersection of globalisation with cultural and food politics in Peru. The empirical evidence, collected between 2011 and 2014 from individuals directly implicated in Peru's food heritage-making, allows for a discussion of how, despite a discursive emphasis on cultural continuity and intercultural dialogue, food incursions into the UNESCO intangible cultural paradigm operate more as an elite-driven competitive global concept than as a tool for cultural safeguarding and inclusive development. To do so, a description of the backgrounds that led to the rise of food heritage awareness in Peru and an account of the evolution of the candidature of Peruvian cuisine to the UNESCO's ICH List are provided.
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In focusing on the practices, politics and ethics of listening, this wide-ranging book offers an important new perspective on questions of media audiences, publics and citizenship. Listening is central to modern communication, politics and experience, but is commonly overlooked and underestimated in a culture fascinated by the spectacle and the politics of voice. Listening Publics restores listening to media history and to theories of the public sphere. In so doing it opens up profound questions for our understanding of mediated experience, public participation and civic engagement. Taking a cross-national and interdisciplinary approach, the book explores how listening publics have been constituted in relation to successive media technologies from the invention of writing to the digital age. It asks how new practices of listening associated with sound and audiovisual media transform a public world forged in the age of print. Through detailed histories and sophisticated theoretical analysis, Listening Publics demonstrates the embodied and critical activity of listening to be a rich concept with which to rethink the practices, politics and ethics of media communication.
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From the softest caress to the harshest blow, touch lies at the heart of our experience of the world. Now, for the first time, this deepest of senses is the subject of an extensive historical exploration. This book fleshes out our understanding of the past with explorations of lived experiences of embodiment from the Middle Ages to modernity. This approach to history makes it possible to foreground the tactile foundations of Western culture—the ways in which feelings shaped society. This book explores a variety of tactile realms; including the feel of the medieval city; the tactile appeal of relics; the social histories of pain, pleasure, and affection; the bonds of touch between humans and animals; the strenuous excitement of sports such as wrestling and jousting; and the sensuous attractions of consumer culture. The book delves into a range of vital issues, from the uses—and prohibitions—of touch in social interaction to the disciplining of the body by the modern state, from the changing feel of the urban landscape to the technologization of touch in modernity. Through poignant descriptions of the healing power of a medieval king's hand or the grueling conditions of a nineteenth-century prison, we find that history, far from being a dry and lifeless subject, touches us to the quick.
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Many scholars have pointed out that when changes in political regimes take place, these are frequently accompanied by politically-inspired changes of place names. In this article, I look at the naming of the South African east coast city Durban, starting with the name Durban itself, and the various suggestions that have been mooted for its replacement. In particular, I look at the Zulu name for Durban (eThekwini — 'the place of the bay') and its suitability as a new name for the city. The article then goes 'inside' the city and looks at the recent re- naming of a considerable number of Durban's streets, and the public reaction to this. Both the re-naming and the public reaction are placed within the context of re-naming globally.
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The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to deal with the human rights violations of apartheid during the years 1960–1994. However, as Wilson shows, the TRC's restorative justice approach to healing the nation did not always serve the needs of communities at a local level. Based on extended anthropological fieldwork, this book illustrates the impact of the TRC in urban African communities in Johannesburg. While a religious constituency largely embraced the commission's religious-redemptive language of reconciliation, Wilson argues that the TRC had little effect on popular ideas of justice as retribution. This provocative study deepens our understanding of post-apartheid South Africa and the use of human rights discourse. It ends on a call for more cautious and realistic expectations about what human rights institutions can achieve in democratizing countries.
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The pernicious combination of tribe and tradition continues to tether modern South Africans to ideas about the region's remote past as primitive, timeless, and unchanging. Any hunger for knowledge or understanding of the past before European colonialism remains to a significant degree unsated in the face of a narrowly prescribed archive and repugnant, but insidiously resilient, stereotypes. These volumes track how the domain of the tribal and traditional came to be sharply distinguished from modernity, how it was denied a changing history and an archive, and was endowed instead with a timeless culture. They also offer strategies for engaging with the materials differently-from the interventions effected in contemporary artworks to the inserting of nameless, timeless objects of material culture into histories of individualized and politicized experience. The two volume set make this archive of material culture visible as an archival resource. They also seek to spring the identity trap, releasing the material from pre-assigned identity positions as tribal into settings that enable them to be used as resources for thinking critically about identity
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From Divided Pasts to Cohesive Futures - edited by Hiroyuki Hino August 2019
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Roland Barthes explained that “food serves as a sign not only for themes, but also for situations; and this, all told, means a way of life that is emphasized, much more than expressed, by it” (1982:171-172). Food has both social and cultural functions, conveying various and nuanced possibilities for readings of texts. This perspective piece builds on the foodways concept to briefly address eating, including what we consume, how we acquire it, who prepares it, and who is at the table in relation to two cookbooks where men feature as key actors in relation to recipes, culinary skills and cooking practice. The argument centres on a preliminary set of perspectives about the texts, aligned to the broader gender questions that the texts open up in relation to constructs of masculinity, cooking, and gender politics.
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In post-apartheid South Africa the state instrumentalised the idea of heritage to advance a project of reconciliation and nation building. Heritage was framed as an inherent good, facilitating symbolic restitution through foregrounding black public histories and fostering a national culture based on the common ownership of heritage resources. This article evaluates this framing of heritage through analysis of the reworking of material remains recovered at two sites of apartheid era incarceration and their different paths to heritage ‘status’. First, it discusses the recovery and rebranding of the fence from Robben Island as an artistic and design commodity. Second, it describes the demolition and recycling of building material from the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg to build the Constitutional Court. Using ruination as a theoretical entry point, the article shows how the heritage significance of these remains was brought out through engaged interpretation that explicitly linked the material to a dominant, reconciliatory post-apartheid heritage narrative. It was then circulated in different economies of cultural, political and economic value, and put to work to generate commercial profit or to promote constitutional justice. Showing these divergent outcomes, the article critiques the utility of a reconciliatory framing of heritage for purposes of inclusive nationalism.
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Drawing on ethnography conducted in Israel since the late 1990s, Food and Power considers how power is produced, reproduced, negotiated, and subverted in the contemporary Israeli culinary sphere. Nir Avieli explores issues such as the definition of Israeli cuisine, the ownership of hummus, the privatization of communal Kibbutz dining rooms, and food at a military prison for Palestinian detainees to show how cooking and eating create ambivalence concerning questions of strength and weakness and how power and victimization are mixed into a sense of self-justification that maintains internal cohesion among Israeli Jews. © 2018 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
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'Imagined Communities' examines the creation & function of the 'imagined communities' of nationality & the way these communities were in part created by the growth of the nation-state, the interaction between capitalism & printing & the birth of vernacular languages in early modern Europe.
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Unsettled History examines South African society and the construction and presentation of its public pasts, from Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 to South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup ®. Conventionally represented as a time of rectifying the silences and distortions of settler history through inclusion and recovery, the focus here instead is on the shifts in processes and locations of historicizing and the unsettled state of categories of framing history in post-apartheid South Africa. This era saw fundamental transformations in the order of knowledge: from the academy to the public; from popular history to public history; from history-as-lesson to history-as-forum. Leslie Witz, Gary Minkley, and Ciraj Rassool take the reader to sites of historical production in which complex ideas about pasts are invoked, and navigate a path toward understanding the agencies of image-making and memory production. This volume is the outcome of the authors’ intensive collaborative research and engagement over twenty-five years on questions including the production and performance of apartheid history; the cultural politics of social history; South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and practices of orality; tourism as an arena of image-making and historical construction; museums as sites of heritage production for a new South Africa; photographs, archival meanings, and the construction of the social documentary; and the centenary commemorations of the South African War and the making of race. The authors not only witnessed many of these instances of history-making but were also participants in their constitution. © 2017 by Leslie Witz, Gary Minkley, and Ciraj Rassool. All rights reseved.
Article
This article investigates issues of identity construction and public memorialization in postapartheid South Africa. It focuses on the Sunday Times Heritage Project, a unique private-sector initiative that involved the installation of thirty memorials throughout the country between 2006 and 2008. The article discusses the conceptualization and implementation of the project, pointing out important differences between this private initiative and the state-directed heritage effort. By interrogating the nexus between race, space, and memory in the construction of memorials, the article highlights the significance of placement and location in the formation of new identity discourses.
Chapter
This introductory chapter discusses the importance of vision in relation to the act of embodiment. Seeing is a primary medium of social life. Given that communal relations are established and sustained in different kinds of looks such as shy glances, bold stares, rapt gazes, or averted eyes, seeing allows one to interpret an encounter, confirm a relationship, or signal an intention with visceral force. Thus, vision reveals authority and weakness, charisma and a host of other dispositions. On that note, seeing is watching from the circumstance of a body—not just one’s own biological or somatic body, but also any encompassing corpus such as a gathering of worshippers. This suggests that to look for a point of view is to look for a body from which, or in which, to see.
Article
Building on nascent conceptualizations of a sensory citizenship, I hope to extend the existing scholarship by bringing tobacco research into a productive conversation with emerging debates in sensory studies. Given that the senses mediate mundane social exchanges - I explore how the pungent stench of smoke that lingers on smoking bodies disrupts normative social scripts of being a neutral smelling, civic-minded individual - thus potentially rendering the smoker out of place in many non-smoking public places. By employing qualitative research methods, I investigate how olfactory similarity and difference can have repercussions on how smokers and non-smokers’ negotiate their citizenship subjectivities. In this regard, I argue that such divisions of difference that run along sensory lines have become a means of sorting out undesirable citizens from desirable ones as well as those that belong to the broader geo-body of the nation and those who do not.
Book
This book contributes to the literature on Geographical Indications (GIs) by providing key theoretical reflections from a five-year review process on the potential of GIs for agri-food products in Southern Africa. The contributors reflect on diverse GI processes and dynamics which operate at the local, national and international levels, thus enriching the understanding of GI dynamics and of the variety of policy options available for GI protection in Southern countries. Following a discussion of the legal framework and governance of national GI schemes in Southern countries, the book emphasizes the main dimensions underlying the development of GIs and their potential for enhancing sustainable rural development and market access in particular. This provides the structure for the chapters that build on the different experiences of Southern African industries that have embarked on GI strategies. The book includes chapters on designing an appropriate legal framework and governance system for the development of GIs in Southern countries.
Book
An investigation into the spatial politics of separation and division in South Africa, principally during the apartheid years, and the effects of these physical and conceptual barriers on the land. In contrast to the weight of literature focusing on post-apartheid South Africa, the focus of this book includes the spatial, political and cultural landscape practices of the apartheid government and also refers to contemporary work done in Australia, England and the US. It probes the uncertainty and ambiguity of identities and cultures in post-apartheid society in order to gain a deep understanding of the history that individuals and society now confront. Drawing on a wealth of research materials including literature, maps, newspapers, monuments, architectural drawings, government legislation, tourist brochures, political writing and oral histories, this book is well illustrated throughout and is a unique commentary on the spatial politics of a time of enormous change.
Article
Contrary to the received wisdom that 'authenticity' is a culturally specific phenomenon on the verge of disappearing, this article holds that it is a mode of interrogating the world available to all. It is argued that a cross-cultural and analytic notion of authenticity can be profitably fashioned once it is noted that its attribution applies to performances and representations which are important because they present something regarded as ontologically inaccessible. The social and political dynamics of authenticity's ontological operations are explored in a reading of recent literature on Primitive Art, ethnographic performances and museums.
Article
In 2005 the municipal council that oversees Pretoria (South Africa's administrative capital) voted to officially change the name of the city to Tshwane. This was met with sustained resistance from various interest groups within the city. This is emblematic of the extent to which place names are vested with historical, political, economic and symbolic value. In addition to protests lodged through official channels, such as the South African Geographical Names Council and parliament, dissent about the name change has largely taken the form of attempts to prevent the use of the new name in public spaces and fora (such as advertising, television, and road signs). This paper explores this material dissent with reference to the landscape of place name changes in South Africa and argues that the resistance has taken the form that it has because of a concerted attempt to prevent the ‘performance’ of the new name, since this would give the new name validity.
Article
At least one of the five senses-sound, vision, touch, taste, and smell-is essential to all human experience. Oral history is no exception. The importance of the senses has taken new conceptual approaches to interpreting the nature of experience, first by anthropologists working with different cultures, then later cultural historians, that is, before these ideas became more widespread. This article traces the importance of the five senses in experiencing oral history with special reference to Marcel Proust. It is well known that senses can act as a mnemonic device or a trigger to remembering. The smell and taste of tea and madeleines stimulated Proust's recollection of his past, in one of the most famous of all literary passages about memory. Proust called it the involuntary memory. Oral histories are by nature, articulating experience in speech and language. This article further traces several ways by which one can consider the role of the senses in oral histories.