Sites of remembrance and forgetting: New media (re)constructions of distinct Ndebele collective memory and history in the context of hegemonic Zimbabwean Nationalism

Ndlovu, Mphathisi (2016-12)

Thesis (DPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study examines new media reconstructions of Ndebele collective memory and history in the context of hegemonic Zimbabwean Nationalism. Situated within the overlapping fields of cultural studies, journalism and media studies, the research explores the possibilities of news websites as liberatory spaces for ethnic minorities, such as the Ndebele people, to recollect, mediate and circulate their historical narratives that have been marginalised and suppressed in the dominant nationalist spheres. Given that new media have been lauded as counter-hegemonic sites that promote political participation, civic engagement and social change, this study contributes to these scholarly engagements by examining how Ndebele people are appropriating three news websites (Newzimbabwe.com, Bulawayo24.com and Umthwakazireview.com) to resurrect, preserve and commemorate their repressed historical memories. In focusing on a Ndebele community that is haunted by traumatic memories of the state-orchestrated post-colonial violence, this study probes how new media are empowering the subjugated communities to recount, mediate and share their memories of past events that remain occluded, repressed and criminalised in official discourses. This research is premised on a social constructionist understanding that the media do not reflect a reality “out there”, but rather construct our knowledge of the social world. Drawing upon theoretical insights from cultural studies, this study examines how Ndebele communities employ new media artefacts to construct, in other words, their lived experiences, and to reconstruct their historical imaginations. This study is framed within a qualitative methodology, as the aim was to explore meaning-making practices in cyberspace. The Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA), a strand of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), was selected as a method for analysing how language use serves to reproduce and challenge asymmetrical power relations amongst social groups. Data was selected purposively from three news websites, and genres such as editorials, opinion pieces, discussion forums, YouTube videos and readers’ comments were analysed to make sense of the reconstructions of Ndebele public memories. The research findings indicate that Ndebele people are employing new media to recollect, preserve and transmit their pre-colonial and post-colonial memories in ways that not only repudiate hegemonic Zimbabwean Nationalism, but also contribute to the resurgence of Ndebele secessionist imaginations. Thus, new media are sites of memory that are not only transforming and democratising the processes of narrating, preserving and disseminating historical memories, but also are reinvigorating and heightening Ndebele nationalism.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek konstruksies van Ndebele- kollektiewe herinneringe en geskiedenis in nuwemedia-tekste teen die agtergrond van hegemoniese Zimbabwiese Nasionalisme. Die studie is geposisioneer in die oorvleuelende velde van kultuurstudies, joernalistiek en media-studies ten einde die moontlikheid te ondersoek dat internetwebwerwe kan optree as bevrydende ruimtes vir etniese minderhede, soos die Ndebele, waar historiese narratiewe wat in die dominante nasionale areas gemarginaliseer en onderdruk is, versamel, bemiddel en versprei kan word. Hierdie studie dra by tot aktuele akademiese debatte deur ondersoek in te stel na hoe Ndebeles gebruik maak van drie nuus-webwerwe, naamlik Newzimbabwe.com, Bulawayo24.com en Umthwakazireview.com, om hulle onderdrukte historiese herinneringe te laat ontwaak, bewaar en gedenk. Deur te fokus op die Ndebele-gemeenskap, by wie traumatiese herinneringe van staatsgeorkestreerde postkoloniale geweld spook, probeer hierdie studie vasstel hoe nuwe media onderdrukte gemeenskappe kan bemagtig. Die navorsing is gebaseer op ’n sosiaal konstruksionistiese begrip dat die media nie die realiteit “daar buite” weerkaats nie, maar eerder ons kennis van die sosiale wêreld konstrueer. Deur te put uit teoretiese insigte van kultuurstudies, ondersoek die studie hoe die Ndebele-gemeenskap artefakte in nuwe media gebruik om sin te maak van hulle ondervindinge en om hul historiese verbeelding te herkonstrueer. Die navorsingsontwerp is kwalitatief omdat die doel was om die konstruksie van betekenis in die kuberruimte te ondersoek. Die diskoers-historiese benadering, ʼn variasie van kritiese diskoersanalise, is gebruik om vas te stel hoe taalgebruik funksioneer om ongelyke magsverhoudings tussen sosiale groepe te reproduseer en uit te daag. Data is doelbewus van die drie nuus-webwerwe geselekteer, en genres soos redaksionele kommentaar, meningstukke, gespreksforums, YouTube-video’s en leserskommentaar is ontleed om sin te maak van die rekonstruksies van die openbare herinneringe van Ndebeles. Die bevindings dui aan dat Ndebeles die nuwemedia-platforms gebruik om pre- en post-koloniale herinneringe te versamel, te bewaar en te versprei op wyses wat nie slegs die hegemoniese Zimbabwiese Nasionalisme uitdaag nie, maar ook lei tot die herlewing van Ndebele- separatistiese verbeeldings. Die nuwe media verskaf dus plekke van herinnering wat nie net die prosesse van vertelling, bewaring en verspreiding van historiese verbeelding demokratiseer nie, maar ook aan Ndebele- kollektiewe bewussyn nuwe energie en stukrag verleen.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100056
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