n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - A study in purple : the Jacaranda city in postcards

Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1020-1491



White settlement in the Pretoria region started in 1855, and this small market town on the periphery of the British Empire played an increasingly important role in South African politics as the capital of the Transvaal Republic and then as the administrative capital of the entire country after 1910. As the site of significant structures such as the Union Buildings and the Voortrekker Monument, for many years Pretoria symbolised apartheid rule and bureaucracy. Pretoria has therefore generally been seen as a conservative seat of power with strong Afrikaner affiliations. Moreover, although it housed many significant industries such as Iscor, Pretoria never attained the status of industry and commerce usually accorded Johannesburg. This article investigates some of the ways in which Pretoria was represented as both the attractive 'Jacaranda city' and as the seat of monolithic power and government in the pre-1994 years. Postcards are commonly produced for tourists and the so-called leisure class, but also serve to foster civic pride and ownership for the residents of cities. Postcards have helped to construct Pretoria's identity by means of practices of representation than either select and showcase, or ignore and elide certain aspects of the city and its peoples. Despite small shifts in the visual language by which Pretoria has been represented, many post-apartheid postcards perpetuate the clichés and fail to reflect the 'reality' of the city.

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