The role of memory in urban land restitution : case studies of five families in Stellenbosch

Du Toit, Justin (2011-03)

Thesis (MA (Sociology and Social Anthropology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Limited academic work has paid attention to the memories generated by claimants engaged in the restitution process. My thesis thus sought to investigate the role of memory in urban land restitution, with specific focus on the Stellenbosch context. In my discussion, I highlight how claimant memories are not only generated by the restitution process but how the master narrative of restitution shapes the memories produced. I argue that claimant memories function and gain wider meaning within the collective memory, through which the master narrative of restitution shapes how they remember – and in so doing, how claimants reconstruct the place from which they were removed. My thesis elucidates how, through the individual narratives of removal and dispossession (and thus, the making of place), claimants position themselves as part of a particular and new form of “imagined community” of land claimants. The context of my research is focussed on the area previously known as Die Vlakte which was located in urban Stellenbosch. Dispossessed and displaced to the outskirts of Stellenbosch town in the early 1960s, the advent of democracy provided the former residents of Die Vlakte the opportunity to claim the land lost. The qualitative methodology of five selected case studies, sought to explore the following objectives of my study: Firstly, to examine how claimants remember and reconstruct the places from which they were removed (that is, the making of place); and secondly, to investigate whether these memories or individual narratives of place are shaped by the master narrative of restitution. By means of engaging prominent theorists and scholars on memory and the master narrative of restitution, my study analyses the various aspects of memory construction and reconstruction within the collective framework. The research points to the interdependent relationship between individual memory and that of collective memory. It is argued that individual memory can only function as part and in reference to the collective memory. Within the restitution process, research shows that the master narrative of restitution not only shapes but controls and organises memory on a collective and hence, individual level. My thesis argues that the individual memories of dispossession and removals of the claimants are similar to national narratives and hence, my thesis illustrates, that the five claimant memories of the place from which they were removed in Die Vlakte is shaped by the master narrative of restitution. Through relaying these narratives of removals and dispossession they thus draw on the master narrative of restitution (from which they derive legitimacy), in order to legitimise their own claim to land and in so doing, placing themselves within the “new” form of imagined communities of land claimants.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Beperkte akademiese werk het aandag geskenk aan die herinnering wat deur eisers, wie betrokke was in die restitusieproses, gegenereer is. My tesis poog dus om die rol van herinnering in stedelike grondrestitusie, met spesifieke fokus op die Stellenbosch konteks. In my bespreking beklemtoon ek hoe eiserherinnering nie net gegeneer word deur die restitusieproses nie, maar hoe die meesternarratief van restitusie die herinnering wat geproduseer is, vorm. Ek voer aan dat eiserherinnering funksioneer en wyer betekenis verkry binne die kollektiewe herinnering, waardeur die meesternarratief van restitusie vorm hoe hulle onthou – en deur dit te doen, hoe eisers die plek waaruit hulle verplaas is waarvandaan hulle verwyder is, heropbou. My tesis verduidelik hoe, deur die individuele narratiewe van verwydering en onteiening (en dus, die skep van plek), eisers hul posisie inneem as deel van 'n besondere en nuwe vorm van "denkbeeldige gemeenskap‟ van grondeisers. Die konteks van my navorsing is gefokus op die area wat voorheen bekend was as Die Vlakte wat voorheen geleë was in die dorp Stellenbosch. Onteien en verdring tot die buitewyke van Stellenboschdorp in die vroeë 1960s, die koms van demokrasie voorsien aan die voormalige inwoners van Die Vlakte die geleentheid om die verlore grond te eis. Die kwalitatiewe metodologie van vyf gekose gevallestudies poog om die volgende doelwitte van my studie noukeurig te bestudeer: Eerstens, om te ondersoek hoe eisers die plekke waarvan hulle verwyder is onthou en heropbou; en tweedens om te ondersoek of hierdie herinneringe of individuele narratiewe van plek deur die meersternarratief van restitusie gevorm word. Deur gesprekvoering met prominente teoretici en kundiges op die gebied van herinnering en die meesternarratief van restitusie, analiseer my studie die verskeie aspekte van herinnering-opbou en heropbouing binne die kollektiewe raamwerk. Die navorsing wys na die interafhanklike verhouding tussen individuele herinnering en die van kollektiewe herinnering. Daar is aangevoer dat individuele herinnering slegs kan funksioneer as deel van en in verhouding tot die kollektiewe herinnering. Binne die restitusieproses wys navorsing dat die meesternarratief van restitusie nie net herinnering vorm nie, maar dit ook beheer en organiseer op 'n kollektiewe en dus individuele vlak. My tesis voer aan dat die individuele herinnering van onteiening en vverwydering van die eisers soorgelyk is aan nasionale narratiewe en dus illustreer my tesis dat die herinnering van die vyf eisers oor die plek waarvan hulle verwyder is in Die Vlakte, gevorm is deur die meesternarratief van restitusie. Deur hierdie narratiewe van verwydering en onteiening te vertel, ontleen die eisers aan die meesternarratief van restitusie (waaruit hul wettiging voortkom), om sodoende hul eie eis om grond wettig te verklaar, en deur dit te doen, hulself te plaas in die “nuwe” vorm van verbeelde gemeenskappe van grondeisers.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6786
This item appears in the following collections: