Street Fight: Toponymy and Multiracialism in Urban Post-Apartheid South Africa - Wale Adebanwi
From Pete Kingsley on October 5th, 2017
Professor Wale Adebanwi (University of Oxford)
4th Oct 2017
As South Africans continue to struggle with the legacies of apartheid and respond to the challenges of the creation of an inclusive multiracial society, street names remain some of the most visible signs of the scalar reconfiguration of the ‘post-racial’ society. In the attempts to re-order the socio-political space between the majority black population - who insist on ‘restorative justice’ through the renaming of streets from apartheid era names to old or new names, and the minority white population - who claim that this process, if unchecked, would lead to the erasure of an important part of the nations’ past and their own imprint on that past, there is an enormous investment in the symbolic value of street naming. In this presentation, I examine the cultural politics of street (re-)naming in post-apartheid South Africa, one, as a vehicle for the critique of power relations in the urban setting of a post-conflict society; two, as a form of ideological debate on the (in)visibility of history in the construction of a shareable present and a common future; three, as an attempt to harness, manipulate, and/or transform historical politico-spatial relations; and four, as practical political deliberation of the role of time and space in the building of a multiracial society.