Falling Monuments, Reluctant Ruins: The Persistence of the Past in the Architecture of Apartheid interrogates how, in the era of decolonisation, post-apartheid South Africa reckons with its past in order to shape its future. Architects, historians, artists, social anthropologists and urban planners seek answers in this book to complex and unsettling questions around heritage, ruins and remembrance.
What do we do with hollow memorials and political architectural remnants? Which should remain, which forgotten, and which dismantled? Are these vacant buildings, cemeteries, statues, and derelict grounds able to serve as inspiration in the fight against enduring racism and social neglect? Should they become exemplary as spaces for restitution and justice? The contributors examine the influence of public memory, planning and activism on such anguished places of oppression, resistance and defiance. Their focus on visible markers in the landscape to interrogate our past will make readers reconsider these spaces, looking at their landscape and history anew.
Through a series of 14 empirically grounded chapters and 48 images, the contributors seek to understand how architecture contests or subverts these persistent conditions in order to promote social justice, land reclamation and urban rehabilitation. The decades following the dismantling of apartheid are surveyed in light of contemporary heritage projects, where building ruins and abandoned spaces are challenged and renegotiated across the country to become sites of protest, inspiration and anger.
This ground-breaking collection is an important resource for professionals, academics and activists working in South Africa today.