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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Sacred places, racial homilies': the genesis of the segregated cemetery in Johannesburg, 1886-1909
Author:Dennie, Garrey MichaelISNI
Periodical:Lagos Historical Review (ISSN 1596-5031)
Geographic term:South Africa
Abstract:This paper examines the genesis of racial segregation in Braamfontein Cemetery. The author asks, how and why, did the older Judeo-Christian idea of the cemetery as sacred ground, when transported into South Africa, become transmogrified into the idea of the cemetery as racially purified terrain? How did this 'racialization' of consecrated soil affect the codes of mourning in early Johannesburg? And did these changing mortuary practices point to a more profound re-conceptualization of the idea of death, the experience and management of bereavement and grief, and the value and treatment of the dead body in early modern South Africa? Indeed, what is the place of the dead in South Africa and how can we interrogate and locate within the very sanctuaries of the dead the meanings South Africans have attached to the disposal of the dead and the ways in which these have changed under the torrent of the racial conflict in South Africa? To answer these questions the paper draws attention to the city's first bye-laws and regulations governing the use of Braamfontein Cemetery. These laws were demonstrative of the city's decision to seek control over the disposal of the dead. The paper explores the development and implementation of the horticultural and landscaping programmes in Braamfontein Cemetery and argues that the efforts to sanitize burial, privatize grief, and impose a new aesthetics on the cemetery's physical appearance represented a profound reconceptualization of the place of the dead leading to the codification of racial segregation in South Africa's cemeteries. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]