More than an Apartheid loss: Recovering and Remembering Fairview, a ‘lost’ Group Areas history

Authors: Inge Salo*, Clark University
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Group Areas Act, South Africa, archives, Global Black Geographies
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 10
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In this paper I recover a neighborhood, Fairview, against the background of the Group Areas Act (1950) - a legislation passed by the South African apartheid government that intensified racial segregation (Robinson 1996). I draw upon research about apartheid forced displacement and how affected neighborhoods are remembered by Black residents who lived the trauma of forced eviction (Bickford-Smith et al 2001). I also draw upon qualitative research to explore the representation of Fairview through personal memories and archival material. Consequently, I present Fairview’s history of forced displacement because of the Group Areas Act, and highlight the violence exercised through apartheid-era legislation. I also present intimate histories that reveal the everyday makings of Fairview. These interrelated narratives demonstrate that recovering Fairview is about more than remembering an apartheid loss.

To explore the layers of neighborhoods affected by forced displacement I turn to archives that reveal the ‘interiority’ of the lives of those who were harshly affected by apartheid (O’ Connell 2012). In my research these archives are comprised of oral histories, family photographs and memory maps, alongside archival, media and literary representations of Fairview. Subsequently, I argue that intimate archives, when brought in conversation with the existing apartheid archive, allow those affected by the violence of apartheid to expand the memories of neighborhoods that were physically destroyed. This work contributes to a broader project of expanding the apartheid archive in South Africa, but also elsewhere, by broadening the memories of neighborhoods affected by forced displacement (Hamilton et al 2002).

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