History and Heritage
This concluding chapter investigates the tension between history and heritage – what one scholar referred to as “twins separated at birth”: while their origins are identical, the trajectories of their distinct life-courses are quite dissimilar. As communicative devices, history and heritage rely on antithetical modes of persuasion. Whereas history proclaims its commitment to unvarnished truth and objectivity, heritage is highly selective, arbitrary, and subjective. Heritage does not pretend to present a genuinely authentic, and reasonably plausible, account of some past, but is a declaration of faith in that what came before. With the end of apartheid and the transition to parliamentary democracy, the new custodians of memory sought to undo and unmake the falsified monumental history of the racially-coded past and to elevate popular resistance to white domination as the new national narrative. Yet in the ‘new South Africa’, sites of memory have to compete with the rejuvenated tourist industry. Tourism is not just a commercial business, but also a social practice engaged with the framing of history and identity.
Keywords: Collective memory and selective forgetting, Contemporary (post-apartheid) South Africa, Heritage and tourism studies, Commemorative practices, Monuments and memorials, Museums and public exhibitions, Thanotourism, Traumascapes
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