The Place of Race

In the town of Stellenbosch, the spatial segregation of races persist, despite formal laws of separation ending two decades ago. This “persistence” offers an occasion to examine how race and place have been tied together in the past, their contemporary coupling(s), and to engage other contexts where race and place have been stitched together Such concrete connections also suggest an inquiry into the “place” of race conceptually: to examine the plausibility of the “post-racial” in the contemporary world and to consider how race appears outside the law, after racial science (of both the biological and cultural forms). South Africa, two decades into democracy, provides a good vantage point from which to consider attempts to break free of the race/place couplet, and thereby to ask how, in the contemporary moment, this couplet might be possible at all. We take up these concerns in the second theme to ask: how have race and space been stitched together in particular histories of inclusion and exclusion in South Africa and elsewhere? How have they been represented and conceived in public and private spaces? Do concrete representations of racial pasts, such as vitrines in the Stellenbosch Sasol Museum, remake race in the present, or can they be transformed to become the basis for coming to terms with racial pasts? How have spatial distributions of racialized populations been addressed in the present, and how might these point to changing modalities of governance and techniques of classification?