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The politics of memory in post-liberation South Africa

le 14 juin 2024
Roundtable

The politics of memory in post-liberation South Africa: 

The tryptic of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, trade unions, and young people
 


Thirty years after Nelson Mandela became President of a democratic South Africa in 1994 and Desmond Tutu proclaimed South Africa a “Rainbow Nation”, has South Africa overcome its fragmented history and has it created a shared memory?

The reconstruction of a shared past with shared memories began after the 1994 elections. In other societies that have lived through conflict, it is normally the victors who write the history of the country. Democratic South Africa, having been created through negotiations where neither side vanquished the other, is still in the process of creating a shared memory of its past. Narratives of what happened under apartheid were told at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (1995-2002), a product of the constitutional negotiations. Public holidays in post-1994 South Africa were the product of negotiations and commemorative events, including the 1960 Sharpeville massacre (Human Rights Day) and the 1976 Soweto uprisings (Youth Day). Heritage sites have been built since 1994, including a Wall of Remembrance to commemorate apartheid-era soldiers and freedom fighters. 

Yet, the country still has a fragmented, contested, and segregated memory. Today, apartheid racial categories continue to be used, most of the population still live in racially segregated areas that were created under apartheid, and most of the black population is still desperately poor. This raises further questions as to whether a shared memory and history is being forged.

Has reconciliation succeeded? How is memory different to history? Who determines the narrative of a collective or shared memory? What is the post-1994 narrative? How is memory transmitted between pre-1994 and post-1994 generations? What is the purpose of a collective or shared memory, or the lack thereof in contemporary South Africa? Is a collective or shared memory a precondition for reconciliation?

with Adam COOPER, Bernie FANANOFF, Aboobaker ISMAIL and Esther WAUGH 

Join the Centre for Research on  the English-speaking World (CREW) (UR 4399)
Friday 14 June 2024, 2-5pm

for a round-table discussion with audience participation on this vibrant and contentious topic.

Salle de Conseil, maison de la recherche, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, 4 rue des Irlandais, 75005 Paris, France.
Hybrid - in person or online. Registation obligatory for both formats.
 

Selected bibliography

  • Adam, Heribert. 1998. “The Presence of the Past: South Africa’s Truth Commission as a Model?” Journal for the Study of Religion 11 (2): 174–200.
  • Bucaille, Lætitia. 2007. “Vérité et réconciliation en Afrique du Sud. Une mutation politique et sociale.Politique étrangère 2: 313–325.
  • Bundy, Colin. 2007. “New nation, new history? Constructing the past in post-apartheid South Africa.” In History Making and Present Day Politics: The Meaning of Collective Memory in South Africa, edited by Hans Erik Stolen, 73–97. Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.
  • Cassin, Barbara. 2004. “Amnistie et pardon – Pour une ligne de partage entre éthique et politique.” In Vérite, réconcilliation, réparation, edited by Barbara Cassin, Olivier Cayla and Philippe-Joseph Salazar, 37–57. Seuil.
  • Cros, Bernard, Mathilde Rogez, and Gilles Teulié (eds.). 2021. The Legacy of a Troubled Past. Commemorative Politics in South Africa in the 21st Century. Presses Universitaires de Provence (PUP).
  • Cros, Bernard. 2002. “Cover-ups and Half-Lies: The Rhetoric of Truth in Post-Apartheid South Africa. The Case of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” In Trompe(-)l’œil, Imitation & Falsification, edited by Aïda Sy-Wonyu and Philippe Romanski, 307–323.
  • Derrida, Jacques. 2004. “Versöhnung, ubuntu, pardon : quel genre ?” In Vérite, réconcilliation, réparation, edited by Barbara Cassin, Olivier Cayla and Philippe-Joseph Salazar, 111–156. Seuil.
  • Fassin, Didier. 2008. “The embodied past. From paranoid style to politics of memory in South Africa.” Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale 16 (3): 312–328.
  • Hamber, Brandon. 2015. “Dealing with Painful Memories and Violent Pasts. Towards a Framework for Contextual Understanding.” In Transforming War-related Identities, edited by Beatrix Austin and Martina Fischer. Berghof Handbook Dialogue Series No. 11: 3–22.
  • Hayem Judith. 2017. “What Do We Call Post-Apartheid?” Social Dynamics 43 (3): 386–402.
  • Holliday, Anthony. 1998. “Forgiving and forgetting: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” In Negotiating the past. The making of memory in South Africa, edited by Sarah Nuttall and Carli Coetzee, 43–56. Oxford University Press.
  • Houston, Gregory. 2010. “The South African Democracy Education Trust's ‘Road to Democracy’ Project: Areas of Focus and Methodological Issues.” African Historical Review 42 (2): 3–26.
  • Houston, Gregory. 2015. “The state of research on, and study of, the history of the South African liberation struggle.” Paper presented at the African Studies Association Meeting San Diego, 19–21 November 2015.
  • Legassick, Martin. 2008. “Debating the revival of the workers' movement in the 1970s: The South African Democracy Education Trust and post-apartheid patriotic history.” KRONOS Making Histories 34: 240–266. University of the Western Cape.
  • Lodge, Tom. 1990. “Charters from the Past: The African National Congress and Its Historiographical Traditions.” Radical History Review 46–47: 161–188.
  • Magubane, Bernhard. 2007. “Whose memory – whose history? The illusion of liberal and radical historical debates.” In History Making and Present Day Politics: The Meaning of Collective Memory in South Africa, edited by Hans Erik Stolen, 251 –179. Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.
  • Mamdani, Mahmood. 2002. “Amnesty or Impunity? A Preliminary Critique of the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa (TRC).” Diacritics 32 (3–4): 33–59.
  • Mamdani, Mahmood. 2021. “The Logic of Nuremberg”. CODESRIA Bulletin 1–2 (August).
  • Minkley, Gary and Ciraj Rassool. 1998. “Orality, memory and social history in South Africa.” In Negotiating the past. The making of memory in South Africa, edited by Sarah Nuttall and Carli Coetzee, 89–99. Oxford University Press.
  • Ndebele Njabulo. 1998. “Memory, metaphor, and the triumph of narrative.” In Nuttall, Sarah and Carli Coetzee (eds.). Negotiating the past. The making of memory in South Africa. 19–28. Oxford University Press.
  • Nora, Pierre. 1989. “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire. Representations 26: 7-24.
  • Nuttall, Sarah. 1998. “Telling ‘free’ stories? Memory and democracy in South African autobiography since 1994.” In Negotiating the past. The making of memory in South Africa, edited by Sarah Nuttal and Carli Coetzee, 75–88. Oxford University Press.
  • Seekings, Jeremy. 2010. “Whose Voices? Politics and Methodology in the Study of Political Organisation and Protest in the Final Phase of the ‘Struggle’ in South Africa.” South African Historical Journal 62 (1): 7–28.
  • Sithole, Jabulani. 2009. “Contestations over knowledge production or ideological bullying?: A response to Legassick on the workers' movement.” KRONOS Making Histories 35: 222–241. University of the Western Cape.
  • Villa-Vicencio, Charles. 2004. “Oubli, mémoire et vigilance.” In Vérite, réconciliation, réparation, edited by Barbara Cassin, Olivier Cayla and Philippe-Joseph Salazar, 317–338. Seuil.
  • Whande, Undine. 2015. “Recalling South Africa – Memory Work across Time and Space.” Comment on a contribution by Hamber, Brandon, 2015. “Dealing with Painful Memories and Violent Pasts. Towards a Framework for Contextual Understanding.” In Beatrix Austin and Marina Fischer (eds). Transforming War-related Identities. Berghof Handbook Dialogue Series No. 11: 3–9.

Registration obligatory, contact:

Organisation: Esther WAUGH and Sarah PICKARD

esther.waugh@sorbonne-nouvelle.fr
sarah.pickard@sorbonne-nouvelle.fr

Centre for Research on the English-speaking World CREW (UR 4399)


Type :
Colloque / Journée d'étude
Lieu(x) :
 

mise à jour le 16 avril 2024