The words District Six are synonymous with some of the most horrible signs of the apartheid system for the vast majority of people in South Africa. District Six was established in 1867, as one of six districts in Cape Town. District Six was a vibrant centre with close links to the city and the port. People of all colours, races, religions – residents, immigrants, artisans and merchants – owned and rented houses. They lived in harmony and were close to their places of work, school, worship and entertainment. The equalizer between them was poverty.
In 1901 all the black people were forced to move out, and as the decades passed by it became a predominantly coloured community until 1966 when the apartheid government declared it a white area under the Group Areas Act. By 1982 District Six was a barren strip of land, and so it stayed for many years. In 1994, two years after apartheid was abolished, the museum was established in the former residential area of an old church.
The speech will discuss whether the curatorial processes applied in this museum, indeed translate into people’s memory of the sad part of their history. Does the selection and display of personal memoirs and mementos tell of both a happier time before the bulldozers moved in and how the brutality of the apartheid state destroyed the community? It will also discuss whether interlinguistic and intralinguistic translation were utilised at all, to portray the multi-lingual and multi-cultural aspects of the former residents of this neighbourhood who are represented in the District Six Museum.
Ilse Feinauer is Professor at the University of Stellenbosch where she keeps a research chair in Afrikaans language practice. She teaches translation studies (Master’s and PhD) and Afrikaans linguistics. Her research focus is on Socio-Cognitive Translation Studies: Processes and Networks. She was taught at KU Leuven and the University of Ghent in Belgium, Humboldt University in Berlin and Melbourne University in Australia. Her most recent book-publication with co-editor Kobus Marais is, Studies in Africa and beyond: reconsidering the postcolony (2017). Her most recent publications are two Routledge book chapters both published in 2021 with co-author Amanda Lourens: “The distinction between self-revision and other-revision investigated in literary translation” in Revision and/or post-editing and “Who’s the boss? Power relations between agents in the literary translation process” in African Perspectives on Literary Translation. She is a founding member and board member of the Association for Translation Studies in Africa (ATSA). She is also co-founder of the PhD School in Translation Studies in Africa. She is the first African member of the Executive Board of the European Society for Translation Studies (EST) and has succeeded in bringing the 9th EST Congress to Africa in 2019, the first time that the EST has moved beyond Europe’s boundaries.