Colonialism and resistance

Current research and curatorial projects

Castle of Good Hope: ‘Kuikaip’

John Thomas Baines, A scene of a battle during the 'Frontier Wars' in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, fought by the British against the Xhosa, oil painting, 1853 (Iziko William Fehr Collection)

The Castle of Good Hope, South Africa’s key colonial building, provides entry points into issues of power and control in the period of Dutch VOC settlement of the Cape. It also provides a means to study the economic regulation of the settlement. The emphasis of the research is, however, on the people who lived and worked in the Castle who reflect a significant slice of Cape colonial society – sailors and soldiers, Khoi-San men and women, slave men and women, officers and officials and their wives, prisoners and exiles. 

Re-positioning the Castle 1992-2004

A separate but linked study documents the process of change in the functioning of the Castle during the recent period, largely a reflection of wider political and social changes in the country. An analysis of events in the Castle during the past decade, in which the museum (formerly known as the William Fehr Collection) played a leading role, is being undertaken. It will provide a case study of how monuments, with symbolism and roles deeply rooted in the colonial and apartheid era, can be turned on their head, a process which remains incomplete. 

Affiliated research on the colonial period and resistance

Samuel Daniell, A scene of Cape colonists returning home from hunting, with their servants or slaves, aquatint, 1831. (Iziko William Fehr Collection)

Lalou Meltzer has been a member of a NRF team research grant led by Dr Nigel Worden with Dr S. Newton-King of the Department of History at the University of Western Cape, and others titled ‘Company, Castle and Control’ (2002–4). The social and psychological world of VOC servants – soldiers and sailors – as well as slaves, and their resistance to control are an integral part of the study. Team members include historians and students of UCT and UWC (history and archaeology departments) and a freelance scholar of the VOC.

Contact details

Curator: Lalou Meltzer

Tel: +27 (0)21 467 7217