The new South Africa offers a powerful site for heritage making, from the romanticism of the Rainbow Nation and African Renaissance rhetoric plied by politicians like Mandela and Mbeki to the rallying cries for reconciliation and restitution through a healing past. Heritage was imbued with seemingly therapeutic powers that claimed to heal the state and its citizens economically, socially and spiritually. South Africa was ?alive with possibility? as national marketing slogans suggested, and the past lay very much at the centre of possible futures. It offered the perfect place to track the progress of the past from the dark days of apartheid repression to the future-geared nation of many colors. For the new democratic nation, looking forward first requires looking back. A material past would in fact provide "unity in diversity", as the national motto proclaimed in the now unspoken !Xam language, !ke e: ?xarra ?ke. Yet as the examples in this paper demonstrate, since 1994 the state elided deep history in the public sphere beyond monumental facades and slogans, resulting in ethnic tensions, violent xenophobia and a failure to combat issues race and poverty. Culturalism supplanted racialism in the ANC's unstated political stance that has come to resemble their apartheid forebears. In the decade after apartheid?s demise heritage has been liberalized, privatized and increasingly naturalized. The politics of therapy and social cohesion have given way to stringent neoliberalism under the ANC: heritage would have to pay for itself rather than constitute the vehicle for empowerment and development.
A light lunch will be served.
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