Accepted paper:

Homecoming as Heritage: Idioms of Return in the Rebuilding of Protea Village, Cape Town

Authors:

Anna Bohlin (University of Gothenburg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyses homecoming in relation to the redevelopment of Protea Village, a neighbourhood in Cape Town razed during apartheid. It traces how activities related to the return have resulted in new connections being forged between the returnees and the current residents.

Paper long abstract:

This paper analyses homecoming in relation to the redevelopment of Protea Village, a neighbourhood in Cape Town that was razed during apartheid. Former residents, who were forcibly resettled in townships on the outskirts of the city, won their land back through the land restitution programme in 2006. They are in the process of planning the redevelopment of the area to which eighty-six families will return. Given the location of Protea Village, in a prosperous neighbourhood, on the doorstep of the internationally renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, the planned return of the community is anything but silent or 'structurally invisible' (Stefansson 2004). On the one hand, those who support it hail the proposed redevelopment as a chance to right wrongs of the past; to reverse the spatial legacy of apartheid and to put the 'new' democratic South Africa into practice. On the other hand, some of the current residents in the surrounding areas contest the redevelopment, and have taken the former residents to court. While relations between some former and current residents are thus tense, the paper shows how outside of formal processes, various activities and events related to the return - an on-going process with both abstract and concrete stages - have resulted in new connections being forged between the returnees and the current residents. In these new relationships and linkages, 'homecoming' is significant as a highly emotive category that both former and current residents can relate to.

panel W083
Homecomings in transnational age: visible projects, forged practices?