Interpreting Recent Histories

In History After Apartheid, Coombes relates how the interpretation of the Tswaing Crater initially involved an advisory body – the Tswaing Forum. Here, “civic associations” were engaged and employed in the process, some of which coordinated grassroots political causes. From this the author admits that negotiations with these organizations can be problematic if good practice is to be pursued. It is an interesting point. We at times will share authority with people with political motives that will ultimately dictate their methods and objectives.

What to me is particularly “slippery,” is the idea that such recent histories – like apartheid or communism or etc – will be shaped by these type of alliances. While the idea is to educate, tensions arise from interpreting more recent histories – tensions that put a museum project’s constituencies at odds with one another. In attempting to create a unity through a better understanding, we can create divisive devices. Perhaps this isn’t always a bad thing.

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