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Memorialising Madiba in South Africa: the role of graphic heritage and toponymy in two contrasting urban places

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posted on 2024-05-15, 12:48 authored by Robert G. HarlandRobert G. Harland, Yolandi BurgerYolandi Burger, Alison Barnes, Everardt Andre Burger
Hundreds of public places across the world are named in honour of Nelson Mandela. However, the act of naming these locations does not comply with a formal procedure, nor is there any consistent level of expectation in terms of what we might learn about this great man. This paper examines an explanatory hypothesis that the process of place naming involving people – and any material representations that then refer to that person – not only offers the opportunity to learn about that person but also impact one's experience and understanding of place. We refer to these material representations as 'graphic heritage.' We examine two highly contrasting urban places named after Mandela (also known as Madiba by South Africans), namely Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg, and Nelson Mandela Park in Mamelodi, Pretoria in South Africa. In looking for traces of his values and legacy using graphic heritage, our methodological approach is guided by the design inquiry method of Zeisel, which uses annotated diagrams, observations of physical traces, and photo-documentation of these spaces. We position graphic heritage as an empirical research tool and as a form of critical inquiry that reveals very much (Sandton) and very little (Mamelodi) about the former president and rebel leader. The findings reveal contrasting settings and significantly different levels of access, diverse motivations through the naming acts, and differing levels of attentiveness to the visual-aesthetic considerations shown by those responsible for the two sites.

History

School

  • Design and Creative Arts

Department

  • Creative Arts
  • Design

Published in

The Journal of Public Space

Volume

7

Issue

1

Pages

17-36

Publisher

City Space Architecture / UN-Habitat

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial 4.0 International License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Acceptance date

2022-06-26

Publication date

2024-03-31

Copyright date

2022

ISSN

2206-9658

Language

  • en

Depositor

Dr Robert Harland. Deposit date: 4 July 2022

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