“The overriding strength of this book is that it places people – ordinary people – at the centre of memory, at the centre of historical and contemporary experience, and thus at the centre of re-imagining and owning the city of Cape Town. It is as they speak – what they choose to say, what they choose to remain silent about, that we become aware of the possibilities of the city, if it really did embrace all its people, in all of their diversity.”
From the Foreword by Mike van Graan, playwright and arts activist
Cities are not only made of buildings and roads, they are also constructed through popular imagination and spaces of representation. Imagining the City: Memories and Cultures in Cape Town presents an array of oral and visual histories drawn from people, who live, work and creatively express themselves in the city.
This book explores the apartheid legacies of the city and demonstrates that cultural life flourished through people’s resilience in spite of adversity. Authors move beyond apartheid history to analyse the reflective ways in which people are coming to terms with that history through memory work, performance and memorialisation. Other chapters provide contemporary views of local interactions such as moments of urban violence or people negotiating the challenges of a globalised world.
Whatever the context, this book traces social and cultural interactions over time and across city spaces that speak directly to the senses, memories and imagining of Cape Town.
Imagining the City makes an important contribution to public discourse about a vision for, and ownership of the city by affirming the memory of its inhabitants, and by hinting at the work that can, and should still be done in foregrounding memory and culture in the re-imagination of Cape Town as a city.