Super-diversity and cultural heritage in the city of Cape Town

Rosabelle Boswell  (Rhodes University)

This project will investigate aspects of super-diversity and their interaction with cultural heritage in the city of Cape Town. The key research question is: if super-diversity is about the present and future, is heritage about the past? In this research it is hypothesized that heritage management involves the reformulation of the past to suit the present and that super-diversity involves an engagement with the past. Heritage is also contested, lived and embodied; it is necessary to nation building and is an integral part of super-diversity. While South Africa has witnessed a creative and complex confluence of old and new understandings of culture, heritage and identity in, the dismantling of apartheid did not necessarily change older conceptions of ‘culture’ and heritage. Moreover, South Africa’s heritage agencies still largely treat heritage as the product of discrete cultural groups. Little attention is given to the immigrant, transnational, religious and gendered heritages emerging from a post-apartheid city and society. The research will investigate how Capetonians, in particular, respond to super-diversification and how they explain the intersection of their cultural heritage with emerging forms of diversity.