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Sewanee University of the South

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


Memorialization is an ongoing process in South Africa as narratives are attempting to be reclaimed and transformation continues to be an approach of ‘new’ nation building. This paper attempts to understand how and why the most common form of memorialization of slavery and colonialism in the postapartheid moment is that of the physical monument, memorial and museum as well as the repercussions of such a space. Through the lens of the Prestwich Memorial I examined themes of memory, erasure, historical production and landscape as artifact. I problematized the notion of primary data because all data is skewed by personal bias, experience and positionality. Thus I used a mixture of an extensive literature review, personal visits to the site, interpretation of other sites of memorialization to slavery around Cape Town and a personal reading of the exhibit and art to guide my research. My writing is framed as an ‘essay as form’ – a theory derived from Theodor Adorno – where ethics are my starting point and my writing should be interpreted as an art form rather than an objective assignment. From my research I can begin to understand that the most current forms of memorialization have been derived from the effective silencing and trivialization of certain narratives in relation to those in power and just how the physical site of Prestwich is highly problematic, as well as the power of memory in the new postapartheid topography of Cape Town. Yet all that remains are more questions surrounding memorialization in Cape Town and the US such as: How do you memorialize something that is ongoing?


Inequality and Stratification | Peace and Conflict Studies | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


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