The palaces of memory: a reconstruction of District One, Cape Town, before and after the Group Areas Act
Weeder, Michael Ian
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis started off as a biographical discussion on my association with District One. I was able to widen the scope of this thesis as my research brought more information to light with regard to the city’s past. The dramatic uncovering of the Prestwich burial ground and subsequent struggles provided the impetus to link the past with contemporary concerns on identity and memory. The narrative of District One is about the topography of the land and people while the archive of the area reflects a history of punishment, settlement, removal and memory. The disinterment of the skeletal remains from the Prestwich burial ground evokes a prior unsettlement and a historical routine of multiple dislocations and separations. The public domain contains seemingly little information on the history of the dockland area of District One. However, I want to suggest that the area has generated a powerful archaeological and social archive of the city’s founding antecedents. This includes the Khoi burials uncovered in Cobern Street, the slave burial ground at Prestwich Street and the denominational and paupers’ cemeteries along Somerset Road. These are a register of significant, yet inadequately understood, elements of the making of Cape Town. It is also the nexus of my personal history and I have written this thesis conscious of the tension between myself as an individual and as historian, and the importance of interrogating those early and formative experiences.