Investigating the semiotic landscape of the house museum in Stellenbosch, South Africa

De Villiers, Gera (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: South Africa as a nation achieved democracy in 1994; however, the country’s institutions of knowledge and power are still grappling with the ways that they can and must facilitate transformation. The White Paper on Arts, Culture, and Heritage of 1996 and its subsequent revised draft in 2017 challenge organisations involved in arts and culture – such as museums – to democratise and decolonise to become inclusive sources of the country’s varied history and culture. Museums attract a diverse range of the public and, therefore, have the ability to foster change through the narratives of the tangible and intangible history and culture that they provide. This study focused on the town of Stellenbosch, where there is a significant lack of inclusive museological institutions that share the histories and cultures of all its communities (it is made up of ten adjoining small towns and townships, of which the Kayamandi township is one). Stellenbosch has a complex history with colonialism and apartheid and this is the history that is predominantly associated with the town. Therefore, there is a need to redefine the discourses of difference and division between the town’s various sociocultural groups. Social semiotics and the dual theory of museology and curatorship formed the theoretical framework for this study. I followed a qualitative approach within an interpretive paradigm and a comparative case study research design was used. The research questioned what a comparative analysis of the semiotic landscapes of the Stellenbosch Village Museum and the Kayamandi Creative District House Museum reveal about the broader historical and sociocultural contexts wherein each exist, with the aim to ascertain the extent to which the museums are appropriate house museum models in a post-apartheid context. The data in this study were collected mostly through individual interviews with management, staff, docents, and homeowner docents of the Stellenbosch Village Museum and the Kayamandi Creative District House Museum. Additional data were collected through individual interviews, workshops, observations, field visits, e-mail interview and correspondence, and document analysis. The investigation revealed that the use of traditional museological practices, as mostly embodied by the Stellenbosch Village Museum, adds to the various deficiencies in inclusivity regarding the history and culture of Stellenbosch. Conversely, the use of new museological practices, as mostly embodied by the Kayamandi Creative District House Museum, could address this lack, as the black, Xhosa history and culture it represents offers a balance to the white, colonial history of the town. The study found that for democratisation and decolonisation to occur, it is necessary that Stellenbosch’s museums embrace new, innovative museological practices that cater to local knowledge and previously marginalised communities. The study offers the Kayamandi Creative District House Museum as a potential new museological model that could assist in reducing differences and divisions in Stellenbosch’s sociocultural divide through the cross-cultural exchange of history and culture by and in the very community that the museum represents. This study aimed to contribute to the research field of museology and curatorship in a postcolonial and post-apartheid Stellenbosch context with the expansion of the dialogue on museological transformation through democratisation and decolonisation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Suid-Afrika het in 1994 as ʼn nasie demokrasie bereik, maar die land se instellings van kennis en mag worstel egter steeds met maniere waarop transformasie in die hand gewerk kan en moet word. Die Witskrif oor Kuns, Kultuur en Erfenis van 1996 en die opeenvolgende hersiene konsep in 2017 het organisasies wat by kuns en kultuur betrokke is – soos museums – uitgedaag om te demokratiseer en dekolonialiseer ten einde inklusiewe bronne van die land se diverse geskiedenis en kultuur te word. Museums lok ʼn uiteenlopende publiek en het dus die vermoë om verandering teweeg te bring deur die narratiewe van die tasbare en ontasbare geskiedenis en kultuur wat hulle bied. Hierdie studie het op die dorp Stellenbosch gefokus, waar daar ʼn aanmerklike gebrek aan inklusiewe museologiese instellings is wat die geskiedenisse en kulture van al die gemeenskappe daarin deel (dit bestaan uit tien aangrensende dorpies en townships, waarvan Kayamandi-township een is). Stellenbosch het ʼn komplekse geskiedenis met kolonialisme en apartheid en dit is hierdie geskiedenis wat hoofsaaklik met die dorp geassosieer word. Daar is dus ʼn dringende behoefte aan herdefiniëring van die diskoerse van verskil en verdeling tussen die dorp se verskillende sosiokulturele groepe. Sosiale semiotiek en die tweevoudige teorie van museologie en kuratorskap het die teoretiese raamwerk vir hierdie studie gevorm. Ek het ʼn kwalitatiewe benadering in ʼn interpretatiewe paradigma gevolg, en ʼn vergelykende gevallestudienavorsingsontwerp is gebruik. Die navorsing het bevraagteken wat ʼn vergelykende ontleding van die semiotiese landskappe van die Stellenbosch Village Museum en die Kayamandi Creative District House Museum aan die lig bring rakende die breër historiese en sosiokulturele kontekste waarin elkeen bestaan, met die doel om die mate te bepaal waarin die museums geskikte huismuseummodelle in ʼn postapartheidkonteks is. Die data in hierdie studie is hoofsaaklik deur individuele onderhoude met die bestuur, personeel, gidse en huiseienaargidse van die Stellenbosch Village Museum en die Kayamandi Creative District House Museum ingesamel. Bykomende data is deur individuele onderhoude, werkswinkels, waarnemings, veldbesoeke, e-pos-onderhoud en -korrespondensie, en dokumentontleding ingesamel. Die ondersoek het aan die lig gebring dat die gebruik van tradisionele museologiese praktyke, soos hoofsaaklik deur die Stellenbosch Village Museum vergestalt, bydra tot die verskeie gebreke rakende inklusiwiteit ten opsigte van die geskiedenis en kultuur van Stellenbosch. Die omgekeerde is ook bevind, naamlik dat die gebruik van nuwe museologiese praktyke, soos hoofsaaklik deur die Kayamandi Creative District House Museum vergestalt, kan help om hierdie gebreke te oorkom, aangesien die swart, Xhosageskiedenis en -kultuur wat dit voorstel ʼn ewewig bied teenoor die wit, koloniale geskiedenis van die dorp. Dit is bevind dat ten einde demokratisering en dekolonialisering te bereik, dit nodig is vir Stellenbosch se museums om nuwe, innoverende museologiese praktyke te aanvaar wat voorsiening maak vir plaaslike kennis en voorheen gemarginaliseerde gemeenskappe. Die studie hou die Kayamandi Creative District House Museum voor as ʼn potensiële nuwe museologiese model wat ʼn rol kan speel in die vermindering van verskille en verdelings in Stellenbosch se sosiokulturele skeiding deur die kruiskulturele uitruil van geskiedenis en kultuur deur en in die einste gemeenskap wat die museum verteenwoordig. Hierdie studie is uitgevoer ten einde ʼn bydrae te lewer tot die navorsingsgebied van museologie en kuratorskap in ʼn postkoloniale en postapartheid-Stellenbosch-konteks met die uitbreiding van die dialoog oor museologiese transformasie deur demokratisering en dekolonialisering.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103441
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