Whose colony, and whose legacy: layers of power and hybrid identities in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Whelan, Deborah (2012) Whose colony, and whose legacy: layers of power and hybrid identities in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. In: Colonial architecture and urbanism: intertwined contested histories. Design and the Built Environment . Ashgate Publishing (Pty.) Ltd., London, pp. 107-126. ISBN 9780754675129

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Item Type:Book Section
Item Status:Live Archive


Debbie Whelan
The remnants of the mud-brick village that forms the earliest part of Georgetown, Edendale, on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal, serves as a reminder that histories and architectures are not necessarily as we immediately perceive them or assume them to have been, nor is the generally constructed notion of colonialism as simple as it sounds. Project work on the Victorian mud-brick cottages, largely built by Wesleyan amaHlubi and SeSwathi African converts at the end of the nineteenth century, invert the commonly considered ideas of colonialism, power and prestige. The practical nature of the project also contributes information to our modern-day constructs of history and assumed historic spatial arrangements. Also, the site is unique in that it consists of a series of temporal layers, a continuously documented legacy which spans from its early Afrikaner grant-farm survey to a prosperous and multicultural mission village that flourished until the peak of apartheid. This constructed peri-urban landscape may owe its layout to the original missionary leader, James Allison, but the continued use of the site allocations after he had left, as well as the communal creation of a model for expansion and its implementation, was embraced by the African inhabitants who subscribed to the Victorian architectural and cultural paradigm.
This temporality creates the unusual strata that comprise the history of the area: an undetermined precolonial history evidenced by the excavations that the Natal Museum carried out at nearby Slangspruit, colonial until 1910, post-colonial until 1948, apartheid from 1948 to 1994, and post-apartheid, 1994 until the present. In most cases, each of these has a predominant and sometimes unexpected settler demographic that differs from the one before. In addition, the fact that these demographics encompass not only local African and European history, but also contain strong traces of Indian history as well, is evidenced by the existence of a mosque on the fringe of the precinct, situated close to the Apostolic church as well as a number of trading stores.

Keywords:colony, power, township, amakholwa
Subjects:L Social studies > L243 Politics of a specific country/region
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K440 Urban studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:28965
Deposited On:05 Oct 2017 09:34

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