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Postapartheid Narratives: Reconciliation and its Discontents

ISBN: 9780415996297 | 0415996295
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Routledge
Pub. Date: 3/15/2015

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This book explores the ways in which postapartheid literature reinvents South African mourning traditions. During the apartheid era, politics exerted a particular pressure on both funerary practices and on literature, both of which were instrumentalised as weapons in the struggle: just as funerals were turned into mass political protests, literature was pressed into service as protest literature. In the postapartheid era, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (1996-99) continued to press mourning into political service, particularly through the Human Rights Violations hearings in which private losses were mourned in public and immediately subsumed within a national narrative of forgiveness and reconciliation. Despite calls for the recovery of artistic freedom and literary autonomy, literature has also been subject to political pressure; writers have been expected to follow the TRC's lead and produce a literature of national reconciliation. While a literature of reconciliation might appear to allow for more imaginative possibilities than protest literature, it is still driven by a particular politics of memory. Durrant explores the ways in which postapartheid literature has acceded to and/or resisted this politics of memory and asks what literary resistance might mean in a postapartheid context. Is it the task of literature to produce a counter-politics of memory, or is it rather to resist the demands of the political per se, to refuse to be instrumentalised in any cause?


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