Land, Race, and Citizenship: The Political Spaces of Monumentalism in South Africa
Emden, Christian J.
This essay discusses the nature of (old and new) national monuments in post-apartheid South Africa which even now, twenty years after the first free elections, remains a democracy in transition. The discourse of monumentalism in transitional political systems is marked by concrete political interests that, in the case of South Africa, are centered on questions of race and citizenship as well as on territorial claims. Monumentalism in South Africa is inextricably linked to the spatial organization of political community, before and after apartheid, and as such it runs parallel to developments in public law and constitutionalism. On the one hand, officially sanctioned forms of monumentalism, such as the Voortrekker Monument, the Taal Monument, or Pretoriaﾒs Freedom Park, tend to camouflage the political and social tensions of post-apartheid South Africa. On the other hand, new forms of monumentalism create accidental and liminal spaces that expose the political paradoxes and historical ambiguities of the new South Africa as in the case of the spatial relationship between the Womenﾒs Monument and the cooling towers of the power station, painted with ANC motifs, in the urban landscape of Bloemfontein.