Mobilising Multidirectional Memory to Build More Resilient Communities in South Africa

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sch of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Abstract

This project explores how the memory of the Holocaust and the memory of the 1994 Rwandan genocide are today mobilised in post-apartheid South Africa as tools for confronting SA's traumatic past and for promoting both reconciliation and greater awareness of, and commitment to, human rights in the present. The project examines the work of the South African and Holocaust Genocide Foundation (SAHGF) and specifically its explicit mobilisation of Holocaust memory - responding to the SA government's mandating of Holocaust education in the national curriculum under the heading of human rights - to prompt debate on SA's colonial and apartheid pasts and on the stark social, political and racial divides that continue to afflict the country today.

As a scholarly contribution to the field of memory studies, our research is intended to achieve the following three objectives:

1) to present a detailed case study of how Holocaust memory is mobilised locally, in order to nuance Rothberg's concept of multidirectional memory and Sznaider and Levy's presumption of the emergence of a globalised cosmopolitan memory. Specifically, we aim to reveal the extent to which local policy frameworks, political imperatives, and interpersonal, inter-institutional and inter-community interactions shape how Holocaust memory circulates.
2) to use this detailed evidence base to reflect on, and develop the theoretical premises of multidirectional and cosmopolitan memory.
3) to explore the relationship between memory and development not in the abstract - e.g. as a scholarly concern - but as a means of building resilient communities in traumatised societies.

The project's principal research output will be articles for a special edition of a relevant journal that will have a broad scholarly appeal, framing research on the circulation and mobilisation of memories of historical violence, oppression and injustice within the contemporary context of international development. Our research findings will be of particular interest to those working on the links between traumatic pasts and human rights.

More broadly, our collaboration with the SAHGF is intended to realise the practical impact of our research findings for the development of more resilient communities in South Africa. In this respect, we aim to achieve three further objectives:

1) to evaluate the effectiveness of the SAHGF's mobilisation of the past to combat prejudice and xenophobia in the present.
2) to help the SAHGF to align itself more explicitly with national and international development priorities and to contribute to the building of more resilient communities.
3) to have an impact on policy at the SAHGF and other SA and international governmental and non-governmental bodies promoting a human rights culture.

Our practical impact on development in South Africa will derive first and foremost from our interactions with the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation. We will work closely with the SAHGF to use our research findings to evaluate and support its education programmes, its collaborations with other South African and also international heritage centres, NGOs, and development bodies, and to impact directly on its mission to promote both reconciliation in post-apartheid SA and a more just society. More broadly, we will make a contribution to policy in relation to governmental and non-governmental bodies promoting the development of a human rights culture in post-conflict societies. We will formulate policy recommendations for how institutions might mobilise multidirectional memory more effectively to help build more resilient communities in the present and future. The primary impact on development will be in South Africa, but we will also impact internationally and globally through our dissemination of our findings and recommendations to key individuals involved in Holocaust education and human rights elsewhere around the world and at the UN.

Planned Impact

The SAHGF's three centres in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban have a combined footfall of 35,000 visitors a year. In addition, the SAHGF's education programmes reach 25,000 pupils, 600 teachers and curriculum advisors, and several thousand other key public sector employees, including prison officers, local and regional government officials, and civil servants, every year. Of these participants in SAHGF programmes, 80% are from groups that were disadvantaged under apartheid. The Cape Town and Johannesburg centres especially have a significant role as leaders and innovators within an extensive network of local and national heritage organisations, NGOs, and community groups, and they are active internationally within the Federation of International Human Rights Museums.

Direct Impact on the SAHGF
Our work on the SAHGF's institutionalisation of Holocaust Memory in post-apartheid South Africa (CI) will provide the SAHGF with an account of its own history. This has been identified by the SAHGF as an urgent need as it seeks to engage more fully with government ministries and agencies in SA and with international NGOs and supranational bodies such as the United Nations. Our work on the SAHGF's mobilisation of the memory of the 1994 Rwandan genocide alongside Holocaust memory (PI) will enable us to contribute directly to the future roll-out of its education programme. Our evaluation of the SAHGF's education programme (PDRA) is intended to help the SAHGF to evaluate the effectiveness of what it already does. We will engage with the senior management team and education team at our final meeting in April 2018, to discuss the implications of our evaluation for the SAHGF's future work across its three centres and as its educators travel throughout the diversity of South African communities. Our evaluation will equip the SAHGF to work more effectively with its clients.

Our planned policy document (PI, CI, PDRA) will summarise the outcomes of our findings relevant to impact and development. It will respond to the following questions (amongst others) which the SAHGF has asked us to consider. How can the SAHGF have a more direct impact on development in SA? In what ways does its work align with national and international development agendas, and how could closer alignment contribute to its impact on communities? How can the SAHGF have a broader policy impact? We will work with the SAHGF to build capacity and to design its own 'pathways to impact', aligned more closely with national, international, and UN principles for development.

Wider Policy Impact
The policy document will also be made available to other local and national heritage organisations, NGOs, and community groups. We will formulate policy recommendations for how institutions might mobilise multidirectional memory more effectively to help build more resilient communities in the present and future. A further key outcome of our collaboration will be to strengthen partnerships between heritage organisations, NGOs and community groups, so that they can work together more effectively to mobilise legacies of the past to inform attitudes in the present. This intensified - but also more focussed - collaboration has been identified by the SAHGF as an important means of shaping a shared mission to tackle contemporary xenophobia and social injustices and inequalities, and to contribute to development.

In discussion with the SAHGF, we have also identified key individuals with influence on the framing of development policy on a national, international and supranational level. (See pathways to impact.) These individuals, including from the United Nations, have agreed to discuss how our recommendations can have an impact on development in SA, Rwanda and potentially globally. In this way, we will make a contribution to policy in relation to governmental and non-governmental bodies promoting the development of a human rights culture in post-conflict societies across the world.

Publications

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Description The evaluation of the Change Makers programme at the South African Holocaust and Genocide programme delivered insights into some of the limitations - and potentialities - of the work that small but well established NGOs such as the SAHGF can do with young people in developing countries to make progress towards achieving the SDGs. Firstly, the report highlighted the (financial, personnel and conceptual) problems of scaling-up such programmes to reach significant numbers of young people--i.e. numbers of young people that could make a real difference at a societal level--and recommended instead a programme of 'train the trainers', in order to cascade the programme across the country. Second, the report also highlighted issues around delivery language (often English rather than indigenous languages), catering (often participants were given types of food that they were unfamiliar with from their cultural background), and so on and so forth. Third, the report recommended closer and more explicit alignment with SDGs, both to raise awareness of the SDGs and to focus the programmes' objectives more precisely (rather than generic emphasis on 'leadership', attention might be paid to gender issues, for example, as a major obstacle to girls especially reaching leadership positions and exercising influence -- i.e the need to challenge young people themselves about their own prejudices and expectations). Finally, the report showed the scope for rolling out the programme across other developing countries--this is now happening, in Senegal, The Gambia, and Nigeria, with support from the project team (under the aegis of as subsequent AHRC award: Changing the Story).
Exploitation Route The findings above can be applied to a range of other similar programmes and institutions using arts and heritage methods to work with young people to develop leadership skills and 'moral compass' in difficult and uncertain social and political contexts.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description The evaluation of the Change Makers programme at the South African Holocaust and Genocide programme delivered insights into some of the limitations - and potentialities - of the work that small but well established NGOs such as the SAHGF can do with young people in developing countries to make progress towards achieving the SDGs. The report, and the wider work undertaken by the project team to engage with our partners at the SAHGF, has brought about a significant redefinition of the Change Makers programme and education practice more broadly. The Change Makers programme is now being rolled out in other African countries, with further partners (e.g. the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, the Salzburg Global Seminar), with further support from the AHRC team.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Influence on education policy and practice at the South Africa Holocaust and Genocide
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The project team produced a detailed evaluation of an innovative programme of education outreach piloted by the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation in 2017. The programme Change Makers is designed to work with young people to develop their leadership skills but also their 'moral resilience' in contexts of material deprivation, social instability, and political opaqueness - i.e. the contemporary situation in post-apartheid South Africa and also Rwanda, where the programme was simultaneously piloted. The evaluation was able to make practical recommendations for how the programme would engage with the young people in the future (for example, materials in a range of languages, tracking the young people after they had graduated the programme and offering further support), as well as some more general policy recommendations about how the programme should be scaled up - and rolled out to other African countries - and align more closely with specific SDGs around gender equality, social justice, and strong and stable institutions, for example.
 
Description AHRC GCRF Network Plus scheme
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/R005354/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 08/2021
 
Description South African HOLOCAUST AND GENOCIDE FOUNDATION 
Organisation South African Holocaust & Genocide Foundation
PI Contribution The SA Holocaust and Genocide Foundation are our key partner on this project. The Foundation gave us access to its education outreach materials and also allowed us to sit on some of its programme, including its pilot 'change makers' programme (designed to inculcate leadership amongst young people, to champion the SDGs, especially SDGs around peace and social justice). This enabled us to conduct a critical review of their practice and then make recommendations for how their practice might become more effectively targeted on achieving the SDGs.
Collaborator Contribution Allowing us access to their programmes, then discussing outcomes and recommendations from the critical review, nuancing them so that they might have a practical and lasting impact on their practice. Also - at a closing workshop planned for May 2018 - bringing together other partners from across the African continent to discuss how the recommendations emerging from the critical review might impact on education practice in other African countries where the SA Holocaust and Genocide Foundation is rolling out its programmes, to educate young people to learn from traumatic pasts to intervene effectively in the present and strive to achieve the SDGs.
Impact A critical evaluation of the education outreach programmes of the SAHGF, including its Change Makers programme.
Start Year 2012
 
Description University of Pretoria 
Organisation University of Pretoria
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Working with Professor Chaya Herman at the University of Pretoria to prepare a critical review of the education outreach programmes of the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation, including its pilot Change Makers programme, a programme designed to help young people internalise the lessons of traumatic pasts and intervene in the present day to promote SDGs around peace and social justice.
Collaborator Contribution Professor Herman is an educationalists with significant experience in undertaking reviews of education practice, especially around development issues. She was instrumental in putting together the critical review, and also in shaping the recommendations and policy interventions.
Impact Critical evaluation of the practice of the SAHGF
Start Year 2017