Colonial and Post-Colonial Rhetorics of South African Zoo Architecture

Haywood, Mark (2010) Colonial and Post-Colonial Rhetorics of South African Zoo Architecture. In: 63rd Annual Meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians, April 2010, Chicago. Full text not available from this repository.

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The Ghanaian philosopher, Kwasi Wiredu described contemporary Africans as living ‘in a cultural flux characterized by a confused interplay between an indigenous cultural heritage and a foreign cultural legacy of a colonial origin.’1 In South Africa the situation is even more complex (as indeed is the meaning of ‘indigenous’). The self-styled ‘Rainbow Nation’ has a lengthy history of contestation and occupation that began around 500CE with the displacement of indigenous San peoples (formerly known as ‘bushmen’) by Bantu tribes from the north. A thousand years later landings by Portuguese navigators, such as Bartolomeu Diaz led to the establishment of coastal supply depots. Portuguese traders were followed by Protestant refugees from the Netherlands, France and Germany, who eventually became the ethno-linguistic group known as Afrikaners. In the late seventeen hundreds Britain annexed the Cape of Good Hope and extended the colony into what is now the Eastern Cape, acts which over the next century initiated ten Frontier Wars and two Anglo-Boer Wars. British rule ended in 1947 and the Afrikaner Nationalist Party introduced the Apartheid policy of separate racial development, which lasted until 1994 when South Africans elected their first non-white government.
Elsewhere in the world the nineteenth (and later) architectural history of zoological gardens contains much that might be uncritically described as the construction of whimsical display spaces for animals, but in South Africa it reflects shifting narratives of power that illustrate the strong relationship between post-colonial theory and the emergent field of critical animal studies. The following account will draw on both disciplines to demonstrate how South Africa’s contested histories are evidenced in the architectural rhetoric of its zoos.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Journal / Publication Title: 63rd Annual Meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA)
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2010 10:40
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 09:15
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