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    “Coloured” Pasts in Post-Apartheid South African Fiction: Slavery, Gender, and Anachronism

    Harney, Theresa (2014) “Coloured” Pasts in Post-Apartheid South African Fiction: Slavery, Gender, and Anachronism. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This dissertation examines a set of novels concerned with the history of slavery, “coloured” identity and the politics of gender and sexuality in post-apartheid South Africa: Achmat Dangor’s Bitter Fruit, Anne Landsman’s The Devil’s Chimney, Rayda Jacobs’s The Slave Book, and Zoë Wicomb’s Playing in the Light. Each writer’s engagement with the history of slavery highlights discursive and material continuities between the colonial, apartheid and post-apartheid eras. By investigating, or making visible, figures of anachronism, these novels qualify the celebratory rhetoric of the “new” nation by pointing to the continued challenges facing the democratic state, particularly in relation to the social position of “coloured” women. In doing so, they challenge the narrative of progress implicit in the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which moves from the horror of the apartheid past to the multi-racial democracy of the “rainbow” nation. Representations of the female slave in these texts raise questions about the construction of contemporary “coloured” identity and the logic of raced reproduction in post-apartheid South Africa. Through their examinations of motherhood, domestic labour and domestic space, these literary works reveal the persistence of a gendered and racialised logic of reproduction in contemporary South Africa that was first generated under slavery and thus marks the state as anachronistic. While deploying the work of American critics such as Hortense Spillers, Lee Edelman and Valerie Rohy, this dissertation remains attentive to the historical specificity of the South African context. At the same time, the novels considered here demand a reconsideration of the space of the nation itself. Invoking a broader history of slavery through their allusions to the North American slave narrative and to the types of forced migrations that occurred under slavery, these texts invite a reconception of the nation state and ask us to consider South Africa’s place within transnational networks of capital.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Coloured Pasts; Post-Apartheid; South African Fiction; Slavery; Gender; Anachronism;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > School of English, Media & Theatre Studies > English
    Item ID: 9136
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2018 15:07
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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