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Trauma, Resistance, Reconstruction in Post-1994 South African Writing

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Edited By Jaspal K. Singh and Rajendra Chetty

The re-conceptualization of South Africa as a democracy in 1994 has influenced the production and reception of texts in this nation and around the globe. The literature emerging after 1994 provides a vision for reconciling the fragmented past produced by the brutality of apartheid policies and consequently shifting social relations from a traumatized past to a reconstructed future. The purpose of the essays in this anthology is to explore, within the literary imagination and cultural production of a post-apartheid nation and its people, how the trauma and violence of the past are reconciled through textual strategies. What role does memory play for the remembering subject working through the trauma of a violent past?

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Introduction 1

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Introduction THE RECONCEPTUALIZATION of South Africa as a democracy in 1994 has influenced the production and reception of texts in this country. The literature emerging after 1994 provides a vision for reconciling the ravages of apartheid and consequently shifting social relations from a traumatized past to a reconstructed future. The purpose of this anthology is to explore, within the literary imagination and cultural production of a post-apartheid nation and its people, how the trauma and violence of the past are reconciled through textual strategies. What role does memory play for the remembering subject? Is that memory “heteropathic” or “idiopathic,” and what does that mean — particularly within the South African context? Apartheid as a historical event seems to still occupy the forefront of the collective consciousness of South African writers. It is obvious, given the tremendous impact that apartheid had on the lives and psyche of South Africans, that the events that marked that specific era will be overly remembered in the writings. Literature gives access to the area in which historical process is registered as the subjective experience of individuals in society; fiction gives us history from the inside (Clingman). Most South African writers, even in the post-1994 period, continue Janus-faced with their fascination with politics and their obsession with apartheid. Chapman noted accurately that the past, even the near past, should not be consigned to the dustbins of history, but would need to be continually recovered and re- interpreted as usable, in the search for new canonizations derived from...

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