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


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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B. Truth, Reconciliation, Resistance and Reconstruction 41


B. Truth, Reconciliation, Resistance and Reconstruction 3 Lyric Monsters: The Humanizing Process of Language in Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull OKLA ELLIOTT HISTORY SUFFERS its most monstrous1 The aim of my investigation is threefold. First, by exploring the use of the lyric in general, I hope to establish that the lyric mode serves to universalize the personal, thereby creating a common chapters when ethnic groups come into conflict—Nazi Germany, Sudan, U.S. slavery, and too many others. South African apartheid was one such monstrous chapter, and it, like each ethnic conflict, has complexities unique to the nation and culture that gave rise to it. One complexity was the aftermath of apartheid, which included an elaborate truth and reconciliation process. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) sought not only to bring to light many stories of robbery, torture, rape, and the like, but also to make reconciliation and the formation of a new national consciousness possible—lofty and ambitious goals. In effect, the process was one of admitting the monstrous truths of the past, then attempting to find the means of reconciliation. The process has been difficult and, most would agree, incomplete. But it has included nearly all portions of South African society—academics, activists, artists, citizen groups, journalists, and politicians—which bodes well for their chances of success in the face of many hefty obstacles. 44 TRUTH, RECONCILIATION, RESISTANCE AND RECONSTRUCTION humanity. Second, I will argue that Antjie Krog’s use of the lyric mode (in both poetry...

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