ICOM Presentation: Navigating Freedom

icom_sa_01Bonginkosi Zuma and Steven Kotze from the eThekwini Municipality have written a paper that will be presented at next week’s ICOM conference in Milan

‘Navigating Freedom: Social cohesion policies and the democratic cultural landscape of Durban’s Liberation Heritage Route’ explores the National Liberation Heritage Route (LHR), a project of the South African National Heritage Council and eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality to commemorate local sites associated with the anti-apartheid struggle for democracy in South Africa. This website is one of the outputs of this project.

In October 2005 the Commission for Culture at the 33rd General Conference of UNESCO adopted a Draft Resolution 33C/29 entitled Roads to Independence: African Liberation Heritage to recognise the universal value and significance of this heritage. At the broadest level, this UNESCO programme draws together the common experience of African nations in their fight against colonial occupation, racism and the struggle for human rights. Within the context of Durban’s Local History Museum, the route currently under implementation within the city pays homage to mainly local individuals representing a wide range of organisations who made the enormous personal sacrifices necessary to overcome the system of racist oppression and segregation. Through a formal system of placing identification markers at these sites, accompanied by explanatory texts using both English and Zulu languages, as well as a detailed map showing the proximity of similar sites forming part of the route, the inner-city built environment takes the form of a politically orientated cultural landscape.

The authors of this paper locate the LHR within the context of official government programmes that seek to enhance post-apartheid “social cohesion” and to ameliorate the lingering effects of apartheid segregation in South Africa. Guided by the work of Lefebvre and Bourdieu, questions arise over whether is it possible, in fact, to educate broad parts of society and bring about positive social change by providing printed and digital historical interpretation of such sites, without the requisite redress of economic and social inequality which remains the practical legacy of apartheid.

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