Rebuilding identity: the District Six Museum's involvement in the current redevelopment of the District Six site.

Koseff, Lara Simone
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This paper examines how and to what extent the District Six Museum has contributed the current redevelopment of the District Six site. Since its inception, the Museum has challenged accepted definitions of heritage and has transcended common museological practices through its initiative as an institution to go beyond nurturing the memory of one of the most iconic sites of forced removal in South Africa, but to also contribute to the site’s redevelopment. The Museum grew out of an organisation that was dedicated to protecting the empty wasteland that the District had become since it was announced a ‘white area’ by the apartheid government and bulldozed. The same group of people became passionate not only about protecting the site, and conducting “memory work” surrounding it but eventually contributing to a process of restitution and rebuilding the homes and lives of those whose houses where destroyed and communities were fragmented. This paper considers such an initiative, which began in a pre-democratic environment where the concept of heritage was ill-defined and cultural institutions often served apartheid agendas. This consideration will involve an examination of the way in which the District Six Museum developed; the Museum’s role and how this role has evolved and the District Six that has been re-imagined through the Museum and how this “idea” is contributing to re-development.
District Six Museum, District Six, Heritage, Land restitution