Browsing by Author "Kasembeli, Serah Namulisa"
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- ItemThe ghost of memory : literary representations of slavery in post-apartheid South Africa(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2018-03) Kasembeli, Serah Namulisa; Steiner, Tina; Sanger, Nadia; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of English.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study examines how authors of slave/slave-owner ancestry have constructed slave memory in selected contemporary literary texts on slavery at the Cape. The texts I study include Rayda Jacobs’s The Slave Book (1998), Therese Benadé’s Kites of Good Fortune (2004), Yvette Christiansë’s Unconfessed (2006) and André Brink’s Philida (2012). All four novels are published in the post-apartheid moment, over a century after the practice of Cape slavery ended. In their examination, I explore the lasting social and psychic effects of traumatic and repressed slave histories in the ghostly presence of a slave past in the post-apartheid present by framing my literary analysis with the concepts of cultural haunting, collective memory and rememory. My conceptualisation of haunting is centred on the idea of slavery as a ghost that haunts the present moment. The study argues that the publication of stories regarding slave pasts at this point in time indicates a haunting that is embedded in oppressive slave histories and that contemporary writers are bringing to the surface through their works. As such, the concept of haunting is embedded in this study’s three main areas of interest: firstly, the revisiting of slave memory in the post-apartheid moment; secondly, the authors’ need to revisit their ancestors’ pasts because they are themselves of slave or slave-owner ancestry; and thirdly, that some of the legacies of slavery resonate with subjectivities in present day South Africa. The chapters therefore examine the representation embedded in the neo-slave narratives by asking two questions: How do they engage with the idea of representing ‘self’ in the sense that, in writing about these slaves, the authors are also writing about their own history and ancestors? And how do they represent the ‘other’ when they write about dead and silenced slaves? My first chapter focusses on Unconfessed to foreground the trauma of slavery by developing on concepts of silence and silencing, narrative structure and fragmentation and narrative as an appropriated court room. My discussion depicts an intergenerational trajectroy in traumatic slave pasts as elucidated in the violence on slave mothers, which rendered motherhood impossible in the practice that children born to slave women inherited their maternal slave status. The second chapter on Philida problematises representation in its reading of the legacy of centuries-old policing of intimacy, white privilege and authorship. In the third chapter, I investigate the narrative of black-on-black violence formulated in inventions of blackness and racial purity in The Slave Book. My fourth chapter introduces the concept of “first person autobiographical narrative voice” as a way to read the neo-slave narratives using the case of Kites of Good Fortune. The chapter shows that racial cultural identities remain a complex issue for descendants of manumitted slaves. In conclusion, I draw a connection between the representation of slavery in the novels and the post-apartheid present of their publication. I do this in order to suggest that slave histories have not been sufficiently engaged with in ways which function to minimise individual and collective trauma and as such they emerge as ‘ghosts that have refused to be laid to rest’.