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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Street name-changes, abjection and private toponymy in Potchefstroom, South Africa
Authors:Goodrich, Andre
Bombardella, Pia
Periodical:Anthropology Southern Africa (ISSN 2332-3264)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:place names
urban environment
Abstract:In 2008, many residents of what was then Van Riebeeck Street in the small city of Potchefstroom in South Africa defied the city council's renaming it Peter Mokaba Avenue by erecting replica Van Riebeeck Street signs on their private property. Interviews with these residents revealed a theme of moral, discursive and spatial straying and lostness. To explain this lostness the authors first show that Van Riebeeck and Mokaba (a prominent figure in the liberation struggle during the 1980s) are the master signifier and abject other of modern South Africa's symbolic order. Secondly, they demonstrate how this symbolic order is inexorably linked to the racialized relations of production embodied in planned urban spaces such as Potchefstroom. Preserving the spatio-symbolic coincidence forged in the 1952 Van Riebeeck festival that tied Van Riebeeck, the bringer of modernity, to Cape Town's foreshore (the founding place of white South Africa), is what motivates this privatization of toponymy. To move Mokaba from abject other to signifier of a new mythology that fails to coincide with the unaltered spatial embodiment of racialized relations of production is to stray too close to the uncomfortable message of Peter Mokaba - namely that the revolution has yet to happen. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]