Accepted Paper:

History in architecture: building state authority in South Africa  

Author:

Julia Gallagher (SOAS, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how the past is used in representations of the state in public architecture in post-apartheid South Africa.

Paper long abstract:

My paper will explore how the past is used in representations of the state in public architecture in post-apartheid South Africa. Public buildings often incorporate myth and history as a way to establish national identity and state authority. New architecture can be a prominent way to do this in post-colonial regimes, and the South African state has built many new buildings that draw on pre-colonial and apartheid histories in a variety of fascinating ways.

The paper compares four iconic state buildings built since 1994. The Northern Cape Legislature in Kimberley, and the Departments of Trade and Industry and International Relations and Cooperation buildings in Pretoria all draw on ideas and imagery from pre-colonial history; while the Constitutional Court building in Johannesburg draws directly on the apartheid past. The paper explores the ways in which these buildings attempt to embed the community and state in South Africa's past, and their success in incorporating history to establish state legitimacy. It is based on fieldwork carried out in June-September 2016, and draws on photography, ethnographic observation and non-elite interviews.

Panel P029
Time as politics: past present and future in African urbanism