Apartheid Heritages: A Spatial History of South Africa’s Township’s website is part of a larger analogue and digital book project currently under development by Dr. Angel David Nieves. This “book” is in the very early phases of discussion and development with a university press.
Dr. Nieves is Professor of Africana Studies, History, and Digital Humanities at Northeastern University. He was most recently Associate Professor of History at San Diego State University in San Diego, California, USA. (2017-2020). Nieves was an Associate Professor at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York., USA (2008-2017) and co-directed Hamilton’s Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi), a $1.75 million Mellon Foundation Grant funded project (http://www.dhinitiative.org).
Dr. Nieves’s scholarly and community-based activism examines the intersections between architecture, social justice, and human rights on the Internet, and critically engages with issues of race and the built environment in cities across the Global South. Coinciding with his work in digital humanities is Dr. Nieves’s research on the history of heritage conservation and urban regeneration efforts in South Africa, in particular the South African township called Soweto, where he has traveled annually since 2004. From 2006-2008 he worked to create the Soweto’76, A Living Digital Archive at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland as a Faculty Fellow from the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (SoAPP).
From 2008-2010 he continued working with MITH as a Networked Faculty Fellow as a faculty member at Hamilton College. Dr. Nieves has been working on a number of preservation efforts in Johannesburg’s “South Western Townships”—better known as Soweto—for over a decade. Located some 30 km from downtown Johannesburg, the township of Soweto has been a site of both historical contestation and numerous state-sponsored heritage projects. In South Africa, the legacy of apartheid has meant a constant engagement with cultural trauma and its impact on all aspects of social life, particularly for township residents beginning in the early twentieth-century.
The building of a multi-modal information environment to discuss Soweto’s past, present, and future redevelopment is part of a new series of cultural practices of remembrance, reconciliation, and empowerment, with a view towards an integrative approach to social justice and the practice of digital humanities scholarship. As it stands today, “virtual heritage” projects require multidisciplinary teams of historians, writers, designers, software developers, cultural heritage managers, and local community informants who would collaborate in the design, development and management of an immersive 3D virtual heritage landscape. In particular, Nieves’s projects would not be possible without a team of scholars, practitioners, and student researchers from Hamilton’s Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi).
Financial support has been provided by:
San Diego State University