Re-presenting Cape Town through landscapes of social identity and exclusion : an interpretation of three power shifts and their modifications from 1652-1994

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Colonial practice informed the development of the built environment in Cape Town and resulted in the production of a landscape that represented the hegemony of colonial power. Where the over-arching concern is the relationship of power and space, the process followed locates the inquiry in issues of social identity and exclusion as representations of power relations. If it is assumed that space is a function of social values and practices that are related to power, it follows that when power changes the built landscape should also change. This is an enquiry that tests this assumption. Cape Town is a port situated in southern Africa, and was initially developed as a colonial settlement in the seventeenth century when the Dutch assumed power over the Cape; thus constituting the first power shift located in this argument. The undeveloped wilderness was changed from a condition of 'origins' to a town representing Dutch power and social practice. The second power shift occurred when the British took over the colonised territory in 1806. While Dutch spatial practice was concerned with defending itself in an unknown territory, the British embarked on a process of expansion into the interior that was dominated by practices of segregation. Union government in 1910 marked the third shift and the beginning of a neo-colonial era where spatial practice remained largely aligned with a modernist European paradigm that produced alienating landscapes. The post-structuralist theories of Lefebvre and Foucault are interpreted to illustrate the 'representation of space' and 'power' in this context. The different spatial sets characteristic of each period, are presented as a construct that is developed to inform the method. The power shifts and modifications that constituted power changes through time are interpreted through a process of narrative and mapping. The accumulation of spatial practice through time produces a hybrid landscape where spatial practice in the context of the post-colonial condition represents cultural difference.

Includes bibliographical references (p. 122-124).