District 1: Mapping memories of an erased space in a transforming post-apartheid city

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This study examines District One, an area of racial dispossession located within the inner-city of Cape Town in South Africa, to establish the heritage value of the area and how it can be safeguarded. The area was desecrated because of the Group Areas Act, with a large portion of the historic urban landscape demolished and the community displaced to various parts of the Cape Flats1 . Intangible and tangible heritage will be used to establish how heritage mechanisms can facilitate dialogue pertaining to memory and displacement for redress and spatial justice to occur. Heritage is essential to both collective and individualised identity. It holds the power of bestowing value to things that have great significance to people, both tangible and intangible (Labadi, et al., 2021). Given the layered history of District One as both a burial ground and an area of forced removals, the area is clearly one of great heritage significance. Heritage discourse in South Africa has always been geared towards the tangible Eurocentric built environment, which with South Africa's history of colonialism, explicitly privileged whiteness. Since 1999, with the birth of the National Heritage Resources Act, there has been a shift towards the inclusion of intangible cultural heritage or living heritage, as it is referred to in South Africa's heritage policies. Twenty years on, intangible cultural heritage/living heritage is still a difficult element for heritage practitioners to grapple with but there seems to be a newfound realisation in its ability for inclusion and redress for marginalised communities of colour. District One has been sparsely acknowledged in the public history of Cape Town, giving way to a forgotten community who continue to be ignored in present society. This study, therefore, draws substantially from interviews with dispossessed former residents and various historic maps and aerial images.