Stellenbosch, South Afrida

A multidisciplinary approach to understanding gentrification in the historial rural hamlets of Stellenbosch, South Africa

The concept artwashing is juxtaposed in this short documentary film to visualize how art can create awareness about the process of gentrification in affected communities is rural hamlets surrounding Stellenbosch, South Africa. A land art project in each of the three rural hamlets of Stellenbosch (Pniël, Raithby, Jamestown) under threat was designed and constructed in collaboration with world renowned land artist, Strijdom van der Merwe and my urban honours students, with the main purpose to use art as awareness creation. In addition, visual arts students created short animation films on the same topic.

Gentrification scholarship in South Africa largely focuses on issues of displacement and change in the social and urban character of neighbourhoods. In this film it is argued that the country is lagging in terms of policies and regulations to manage and/or control gentrification. Using the historical rural hamlets around Stellenbosch, namely, Pniël, Raithby and Jamestown as case studies, an argument is presented for incorporating intangible heritage as part of a proposed gentrification management overlay zone for these hamlets. The hamlets have a rich cultural heritage as they were established with the church as key historical landmarks. However, development-led gentrification poses the risk of destroying their heritage in the near future. In the absence of municipal bylaws and South African legislation and policies for the management of gentrification, experiences from elsewhere in the world are drawn upon, to present recommendations to the Stellenbosch Local Municipality on how gentrification can be managed to the benefit of the hamlets.

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