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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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A. Memory and the Construction of Identities 9

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A. Memory and the Construction of Identities 1 South Asian Diaspora in Africa: Collective and Individual Memory in Fatima Meer’s and Sita Gandhi’s Texts JASPAL KAUR SINGH CONSIDERING COLLECTIVE and individual memory in Fatima Meer’s Prison Diary: One Hundred and Thirteen Days, 1976 (2001) and Sita Gandhi’s Sita—Memoirs of Sita Gandhi: Growing up in Phoenix in the Shadow of the Mahatma (2003), I will examine how the remembering subjects attempt to narrate their experience of trauma in order to become part of the nation’s social memory. If one’s memory and its narration are denied within cultural and social spaces, one cannot successfully belong to a nation, particularly if that memory is of a trauma inflicted by the nation-state. How do the marginalized and traumatized South African subjects in an apartheid and post- apartheid space reconstitute and narrate their identity in order to belong to a nation, if not through literature and story-telling? Fatima Meer, who was imprisoned during the apartheid era in South Africa for her anti-apartheid campaign, wrote her dairy, Prison Diary: One Hundred and Thirteen Days, 1976. Meer was born in Grey Street in Durban on August 28, 1928. Her Indian-born father Moosa Meer was the editor of Indian Reviews, which was predominantly read by the Gujarati Muslim community in South Africa. The weekly was aimed at issues pertaining to the struggles of Indians against British 12 MEMORY AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITIES colonialism. Her mother, Rachel Ferrell, of Jewish and Portuguese descent, converted to Islam and...

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