Gewete, transformasie en herinnering op die Rooiplein
Keywords:university, public space, space of conscience, transformation, reflective nostalgia, University of the Free State
In this article, I rely on a number of theoretical approaches to reflect on the possibility of the transformation of universities, in particular the University of the Free State (UFS). A starting point is the role of public space in a transforming society with emphasis on universities as public spaces. A ‘site of conscience’ approach, namely an approach to public space that endorses a critical and active engagement with the past to reflect on enduring injustice, is followed to reflect on the Red Square (the nickname derived from the red brick with which the ‘President’s Square’ was built), a prominent space on the campus of the UFS. Suggestions on how the space can be re-interpreted are considered. “Reconciliation” as featured in the work of Hannah Arendt and “Reflective nostalgia” (Boym) are relied on to contemplate the potential of the Red Square as a space of transformation and as a space of conscience. The potential of reconciliation to create a shared world that makes a plural cohabitance possible is considered. I am not arguing that reconciliation could or should take place but that conversations on what reconciliation may entail could be of value. Reflective nostalgia embraces the ambivalence of belonging and provides for multiple homes. I suggest the idea of reflective nostalgia as a possible way by which the past and figures from the past can be remembered in a critical way as it discloses multiple narratives and embraces conflicting perspectives.
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