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Syracuse University

Publication Date

Fall 2007

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Social Change


The purpose of this project was to look at memory and memorialization in Cape Town in order to better understand the role of sites of memory and memory initiatives in the making of the ‘new’ South Africa. This study focuses on connections between memory and place and memory and identity. It also looks at the Cape Town landscape, the ways in which it has changed over time and contestations over sites on this landscape. This project was conducted as a social analysis project over the period of one month. Visits to monuments and museums, interviews with people involved in memory and heritage work, and attendance at a public seminar regarding the memorialization of recently discovered human remains near the city center were all central to this project. Secondary research was also conducted in carrying out this study. The findings of this project show that processes of remembering the past are increasingly viewed in the context of building a ‘new’ South Africa and shaping more inclusive identities. Yet who gets to remember the past and how this is done are hotly contested issues. Struggles over how the past is remembered and by who play out on the landscape and are indicative of wider power struggles that lie at the heart of Cape Town and South Africa’s struggle to create a unified nation.


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