JOHANNESBURG THEN AND NOW: GLOBAL FORCES, LOCAL PRACTICES
Elective Leader: Melinda Silverman
This course focusses on the history of Johannesburg as South Africa's preeminent modern city – a city pre-occupied with fashion, the new, the novel, the contemporary. It explores how aspects of modernity were mobilised to create the unique characteristics of the city. By interrogating how modernist architecture and urbanism were transported from Western Europe to a colonial context, it attempts to unravel the complex interrelationships between global forces and local conditions, and to identify both the losses and gains of translation.
Buildings and urban spaces are explored both as material artefacts, concrete manifestations of their time and place, as well as ideological constructs, channelling ideas about race, class, nation and gender. Using Johannesburg as a site, the course brings into dialogue ideas ordinarily associated with the social sciences – colonialism, nationalism, identity, power… – and the particularities of South African space.