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Culture, Heritage and the Politics of Identity in National and Tribal Spaces: the city and the traditional village in Botswana

Mwale, K P (2018) Culture, Heritage and the Politics of Identity in National and Tribal Spaces: the city and the traditional village in Botswana. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Studies into architecture in Botswana posit that architecture in the capital city- Gaborone is a result of the imposition of British culture received through the historical conditions of colonisation and independence. This study seeks to go beyond this generalisation by examining architecture in Botswana, grounded in the construction of national and ethnic cultural identities, a sense of history, the idea of culture and its implication on space. It explores the relationship between identity politics and architecture. It traces various postcolonial identity-making practices in the city and traditional villages, which I argue, reveal a scenario whereby identities are re-interpreted and re-inscribed as part of the process of postcolonial manifestations of identities in space. Gaborone was planned as a capital city during the transition to self-rule and was envisioned as a mirror image of a nation, this process involved a search for postcolonial national identity and nation-building imperative. By analysing the archival documents and case study material on the city's planning legacy in relation to the socio-political context, I argue that these material facts provide a lens through which the representative spaces of the nation and state can be critically examined. I suggest that the process of envisioning the city is far more complex and nuanced than it is usually portrayed in literature, and it entails the negotiation between design professionals, the extant Tswana political elite, and colonial administrative officers. The study traces the persistence of national identity construction within the post-colonial period in the urban spaces. It illustrates that the spaces provide a platform where the national ii culture and identity is being formed, promoted, legitimised and consumed through national institutions and cultural activities such as markets and performances. In contrast, the recent ethnic cultural consciousness amongst ethnic communities presents a contrasting case of the construction of culturally derived identities. The analysis of the historic core of the village traces how the ethnic group of Bakgatla is constructing their own cultural spaces by examining historical and cultural landscapes of the Phuthadikobo cultural precinct and the Moruleng cultural precinct. The study argues that the built environment in postcolonial Botswana should be examined in connection with the wider socio-political changes; in this regard, the study draws theoretical insights from cultural studies, colonial, nationalism and postcolonial studies. It makes a contribution to the recent literature on architecture in postcolonial countries, which seeks to go beyond the perspective of colonial power representation as domination, but the constant negotiation between actors and practices. Additionally, it contributes to the conceptualisation of architecture and urbanism in relation to the construction of identities and meaning.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Architecture (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.745691
Depositing User: Mrs K P Mwale
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2018 08:41
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:04
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20762

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