Double vision and suspended conversations: reconstituting landscapes of memory in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

DOI: 10.1080/23323256.2019.1583065
Author(s): Naomi RouxDepartment of Architecture and Planning, South Africa


Between 1968 and 1975, the neighbourhood of South End in Port Elizabeth underwent a traumatic process of destruction as its residents were forcibly removed under the Group Areas Act and the suburb was razed. This paper traces some of the practices of memory in South End that work in the interstices between material remnants and ephemeral memory, to unpack the various ways in which these practices make use of traces, ruins, embodied experience and personal iconographies to reconstitute landscapes that cannot ever be fully recovered. The paper draws on Martha Langford’s concept of the photograph as a “suspended conversation,” exploring the ways material traces and ruined objects in urban landscapes are used to reconstitute and narrativise traumatic pasts. In this work I consider the ways in which such traces become activated by the presence of an interpolator whose presence is vital to the reconstitution of the remembered landscape.

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