History After Apartheid: Visual Culture and Public Memory in a Democratic South Africa

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History After Apartheid: Visual Culture and Public Memory in a Democratic South Africa

By Annie E. Coombes
Duke University Press, 2003
384 pp. $99.95
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This interesting and unusual book examines South Africa's postapartheid debate over the transformation of museums, monuments, heritage sites, and other public places where a nation's self-definition and collective memory are shaped. Should the country's need for reconciliation outweigh the need for truthful representation of past repression? How much commercialism or private sponsorship should be allowed in the development of sites memorializing the liberation struggle? Coombes explores these sorts of vexing questions, which confronted policymakers and museum officials in the 1990s as they planned the change and development of Robben Island Prison, Pretoria's seemingly irredeemable Voortrekker Monument, Cape Town's contested District Six, art exhibits associated with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and historical murals at South Africa's embassy in London. Copious illustrations and references and a lengthy bibliography also make this work a valuable resource for art history students and professionals.