Uncast in stone: Inspired by absence to build a solid museum practice

Bennett, Bonita (2022) Uncast in stone: Inspired by absence to build a solid museum practice. The International Journal of Intangible Heritage, 17. pp. 136-148. ISSN 1975-3586

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Museums all over the world have accepted that intangible heritage has a valuable place in the memory of the world. However, tangible and intangible heritage are often regarded as dichotomous – located at opposite ends of a spectrum, leaving many custodians of intangible heritage struggling to occupy a firm place in a sector dominated by objects, physical sites and other forms of material culture.
District Six Museum (D6M) in Cape Town, South Africa, has built a strong memory practice that rests on a constant affirmation of the synergies that can exist between tangible and intangible heritage when engaged as part of a dynamic continuum. It leans strongly towards privileging intangible heritage, advocating for it to be acknowledged as valid and substantive in its own right. In this article, I reflect on three projects of the D6M, which serve as lenses into this methodology, demonstrating that working with intangible heritage can make sustainable impacts. At the same time, I draw on the project plans to show that conceptualising, crafting and implementing actions collaboratively with the community that is the museum’s most natural and closest constituency – in this case, the displaced people of District Six – can contribute to building community cohesion and psychosocial healing. The D6M initiatives discussed in this article demonstrate the powerful possibilities inherent in processes that work closely with memory keepers as co-curators rather than as source communities.

Item Type: Article
Cultural Property: District Six Museum (D6M), Cape Town, South Africa
Keywords: memory social justice, memory work, memory and affect, personal narrative, public art, absence national heritage, site work, museum, intangible cultural heritage, South Africa
Subjects: E Museology > 03 Museum
B Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) > 01 Generalities
Depositing User: Mr Jose García Vicente
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2022 21:15
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2022 21:15
URI: http://culturainmaterial.es/id/eprint/115

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