Marginality in post-TRC texts : storytelling and representational acts

Kim, Ha-Eun Grace (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2011-03)

Thesis (MA (English))--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: As a society that is only in its adolescence as a democracy, South Africa faces massive inequalities, both politically and socially. Within this context, Fanie du Toit of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation urges us to remember that “nation-building in our young democracy requires opportunities for South African voices to be heard, particularly those from the margins of society, so often excluded, ignored or forgotten” (1). This thesis thus focuses on story-telling and representational acts of the marginalized in post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) texts. The term “post-TRC” is an indication of the framework I use to explore the poetics and politics of representation, as well as the past‟s impact on contemporary South Africa. In my overview of the TRC, I focus not on actual testimonies, but on the space provided for the marginalized to speak, as well as methodologies and techniques of representation that stem from the TRC process. Antjie Krog's Country of My Skull (1998), which mimics and expands on the TRC's work, sets the platform for my discussion as Krog incorporates many of the victims' testimonies into her narrative. In my second chapter, I explore the tension between advocacy and appropriation as various factors influence Krog's act of representation. In Chapters Three and Four, the complexities of representation are investigated in four post-TRC texts which feature a protagonist who is either represented as marginalized, or who engages with marginalized individuals. In Chapter 3, I turn to the homeless and the foreigner in Jonathan Morgan and the Great African Spider Writers' Finding Mr Madini (1999), and Phaswane Mpe's Welcome to Our Hillbrow (2001). In Finding Mr Madini, Jonathan Morgan consciously employs a framework for interacting with the homeless that draws on processes of the TRC, and turns away from representing others towards providing a space for self-representation. Welcome to Our Hillbrow highlights the power of narrative in effecting marginalization or belonging, while demonstrating the fluidity of the identities of the self and the stranger. In Chapter Four, I look at novels featuring youth protagonists to investigate how genre and literary form shape representation. Using Patricia Schonstein Pinnock's Skyline (2000) and K. Sello Duiker's Thirteen Cents (2000), texts which evoke and deviate from the Bildungsroman form, I explore the ways in which these protagonists navigate their fragmented urban spaces. I also end with these novels to see what kind of future awaits these young people in which the marginalized have (not) been given a space to speak. All these protagonists grapple with the complexities of representation in various ways, as they create stories of self and others to restore a sense of home or belonging in contemporary South Africa. Furthermore, the past is shown to be implicated in the present as colonial and apartheid structures of domination and marginalization are shown to still play a significant role in shaping people's interaction with each other. At the same time, the collective indeterminacy of these texts' endings signals openness to the future, as well as the unfinished nature of the past.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: As demokrasie staan Suid-Afrika nog in sy kinderskoene. Die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing staar daarom omvangryke ongelykhede, beide polities en sosiaal, in die gesig. Met hierdie konteks in gedagte noop Fanie du Toit van die Instituut vir Justisie en Versoening ons om in ag te neem dat “nasie-bou in ons jong demokrasie geleenthede vir Suid-Afrikaanse stemme, veral dié wat deur die samelewing gemarginaliseer, en sodoende dikwels uitgesluit, geïgnoreer en vergeet is, vereis” (1). Hierdie verhandeling fokus dus op vertelling en die voorstellingshandelinge van die gemarginaliseerdes in post-Waarheid en Versoeningskommissie-tekste. Die term “post-WVK” vorm die basis vanwaar ek die poëtiese en politieke aspekte van voorstelling, maar terselfdertyd ook die verlede se impak op die hedendaagse Suid-Afrika, ondersoek. In my oorsig van die WVK fokus ek nie op getuienisse nie, maar eerder op die ruimte vir seggenskap wat vir die gemarginaliseerdes daargestel is. Ek neem ook metodieke en tegnieke van voorstelling wat vanuit die WVK-verwikkelinge spruit in oënskou. Antjie Krog's Country of My Skull (1998) wat die WVK se werk weergee en bepeins, maar ook daarop voortbou, verskaf die basis vir hierdie bespreking aangesien Krog menigte slagoffers se getuienisse in haar boek vervat. Ek ondersoek verder die spanning tussen voorspraak en toe-eiening aangesien verskeie faktore haar voorstellingshandeling beïnvloed. Die daaropvolgende twee hoofstukke ondersoek die ingewikkeldhede van voorstelling in vier post-WVK-tekste. Hierdie tekste word telkens gekenmerk deur 'n protagonis wat óf self gemarginaliseer is, óf met gemarginaliseerde individue omgaan. In Hoofstuk Drie ondersoek ek die daklose en die buitelander in Jonathan Morgan en The Great African Spider Writers se Finding Mr Madini (1999), en Phaswane Mpe's Welcome to Our Hillbrow (2001). In Finding Mr Madini maak Jonathan Morgan doelbewus van 'n benadering, in pas met en beïnvloed deur WVK-werkinge, gebruik om met die daklose om te gaan. Hiermee beweeg hy dan weg van die voorstelling van ander na die skepping van 'n ruimte vir self-voorstelling. Welcome to Our Hillbrow plaas weer klem op die mag van vertelling om marginalisering, maar ook samehorigheid te bewerkstellig, terwyl dit ook die onstabiele aard van die identiteite van die self en die vreemdeling illustreer. In Hoofstuk Vier ondersoek ek romans met jong protagoniste om te toon hoe genre en literêre vorm voorstelling beïnvloed. Deur van Patricia Schonstein Pinnock's Skyline (2000) en K. Sello Duiker's Thirteen Cents (2000), tekste wat aan die Bildungsroman-genre herinner, maar ook daarvan afwyk, gebruik te maak, verken ek die maniere waarop hierdie protagoniste hul stedelike ruimtes reël en betree. Verder sluit ek met hierdie romans af ten einde te sien wat die toekoms, waarin die gemarginaliseerde seggenskap gegun is, al dan nie, vir hierdie jongmense inhou. Al hierdie protagoniste worstel op uiteenlopende maniere met die ingewikkeldhede van voorstelling. Dit is duidelik aangesien hulle stories van self en ander skep om 'n sin van tuiste en samehorigheid in hedendaagse Suid-Afrika te bewerkstellig. Die verlede blyk verder in die hede verwikkel te wees aangesien koloniale- en apartheidstrukture van onderdrukking en marginalisering steeds 'n betekenisvolle rol in die aard van mense se interaksie met mekaar speel. Terselfdertyd dui die kollektiewe onbepaaldheid van hierdie tekste se aflope op 'n oopheid vir die toekoms en die onafgehandelde aard van die verlede.

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