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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 March 2020
This article examines how slavery has been remembered in the urban space of Cape Town over time. It explores how individuals and groups have commemorated the history of slavery from the late nineteenth century onwards. It outlines how memory of slavery faded as the number of people with direct experience of enslavement decreased, with burgeoning racial segregation influencing the way that the past was viewed. It then examines how post-1994 democracy in South Africa has once again changed approaches to history. Colonial-era abuses such as slavery have not always been readily remembered in an urban space where their legacies are visible, and this article examines the interplay of politics and identity at the heart of public memorialization of these contested pasts.
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32. This scholarship is associated chiefly with Adhikari but see also Erasmus, Coloured by History.
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48. Besten, “‘We Are the Original Inhabitants of this Land’”, pp. 134–156. “Khoisan” refers to the pastoral Khoi tribes and hunter-gatherer San or Bushmen. Following persecution under colonialism, descendants were absorbed into the coloured population.
49. This can be attributed to a climate in which self-exploration has been encouraged, as well as to more explicit attempts around the turn of the century by academics based at the University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape to encourage coloured people to investigate their potential slave routes using archival material.
50. Patric Tariq Mellet (heritage activist and writer), in discussion with the author, Cape Town, 12 April 2016.
51. Adhikari, “From Narratives of Miscegenation”, p. 91.
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55. Iziko currently manages eleven sites in the Cape Town area.
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59. VOC is an abbreviation for Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company).
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62. The potential impact of such a narrative is arguably stymied at present in the Slave Lodge by the number of displays that are remnants of the SACHM and have yet to be removed.
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67. For detailed accounts of the consultation process from perspectives sympathetic to the arguments proposed by anti-exhumation campaigners, see Shepherd and Ernsten, “The World Below”, pp. 215–233; Shepherd, Nick, “Archaeology Dreaming: Post-Apartheid Urban Imaginaries and the Bones of the Prestwich Street Dead”, Journal of Social Archaeology, 7:1 (2007), pp. 3–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Grunebaum, Heidi, Memorializing the Past: Everyday Life in South Africa after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (New Brunswick, NJ, 2011), p. 130Google Scholar. For the viewpoint of some of the academics who supported exhumation, see Malan, Antonia and Worden, Nigel, “Constructing and Contesting Histories of Slavery at the Cape, South Africa”, in Lane, Paul J. and MacDonald, Kevin C. (eds), Slavery in Africa: Archaeology and Memory (Oxford [etc.], 2011), pp. 409–411Google Scholar.
68. Shepherd and Ernsten, “The World Below”, pp. 222–223.
69. “Coffee Shop ‘Out of Place’ at Memorial”, The Cape Towner, 22 April 2010.
71. The current edition of Truth's website (https://truth.coffee/; last accessed 16 December 2019) omits this text.
72. Boyer, M. Christine, The City of Collective Memory: Its Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments (Cambridge [etc.], 1996), p. 9Google Scholar.
73. The vessel foundered in 1794 while crossing the Atlantic with an estimated 212 out of a human cargo of around 500 perishing. “South Africans Honour Slaves Drowned in 1794 Shipwreck”, Mail & Guardian, 2 June 2015.
74. This event formed part of the international Slave Wrecks Project, a collaboration between a number of museums including Iziko and the Smithsonian. As well as enslaved Mozbiekers, twentieth-century workers in South African mines who originated in Mozambique were also discussed, as was the existence of families with distinctive Mozambique heritage in pre-Group Areas Act District Six.
75. Lucy Campbell, in discussion with the author, Cape Town, 29 June 2015.
76. Kreamer, Christine Mullen, “Shared Heritage, Contested Terrain: Cultural Negotiation and Ghana's Cape Coast Castle Museum Exhibition ‘Crossroads of People, Crossroads of Trade’”, in Karp, Ivan, Kratz, Corrine A., Szwaja, Lynn, and Ybarra-Frausto, Tomas, with Buntinx, Gustavo, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara, and Rassool, Ciraj, (eds), Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations (Durham, NC [etc.], 2006), pp. 443–454Google Scholar.
77. Campbell, discussion.
80. The aforementioned attempt to gain free entry to the Castle exemplified this tendency. Press articles such as “Slaves: South Africa's First Freedom Fighters”, Mail & Guardian, 4 December 2015, demonstrate how there is an increasing awareness of the contribution enslaved people made to shaping South Africa.
81. Gilroy, Black Atlantic, p. 39.
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