What might we expect to learn about a person when visiting a place named after them?

This question has occupied design researchers at Loughborough University since 2021, and has been explored in places associated with Nelson Mandela. Most recently this has been in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation on the project Named after Nelson: Learning from places named after Nelson Mandela through Graphic Heritage [NaN].

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About Nelson Mandela Foundation
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The Nelson Mandela Foundation is a non-profit organisation focused on memory, dialogue and legacy work, founded by Nelson Mandela in 1999. We are the custodian of his life and times; we are a committed facilitator of his legacy; and we are mandated to promote his lifelong vision of freedom and equality for all.

Part of the preservation and advancement of Madiba’s legacy and making this legacy available to the world is the provision and ongoing preservation of its extensive archive collection materials. The archival record relating to Nelson Mandela is infinite, fragmentary and scattered, both geographically and institutionally throughout the world, making it almost impossible to physically locate in one place. The imperative, therefore, is to document this vast resource, facilitate access to it, and promote its preservation and use. 

The Named after Nelson project is the first of its kind to include the graphic heritage element. The Nelson Mandela Foundation journey with this project began with a workshop on Nelson Mandela’s heritage exploring the relationship between toponomy, graphic images, cultural heritage, archival practice, and placemaking in locations named after Nelson Mandela. This was presented by Dr Yolandi Burger, Dr Everard Burger and Dr Robert Harland. The places named after Nelson Mandela is an interesting area to explore because of its worldwide interrogation of not just why the places were named after him but also what it means to people currently.

Razia Saleh, Head of Archive and ResearchNelson Mandela Foundation

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For an account of the project browse the booklet immediately below.

For an overview of the earlier research watch here.

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Using the lens of Graphic Heritage, this website provides an account of the NaN project in support of a exhibition of the same name at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg, between 25 April to 30 September 2024.

To learn more about the earlier development of our research into Nelson Mandela’s graphic heritage see Memorialising Mandela in the Metropolis.

[This website is under development and will fully launch on 25 April 2024]