Staking out a place amidst shifting soils : understanding contemporary South Africa through social memory
Staking Out a Place Amidst Shifting Soils: Understanding Contemporary South Africa Through Social Memory begins with the premise of global turbulence. The End of History as the global modus operandi rests on unstable ground. Within this context, South Africa is explored, as the nation’s transition has been held up as emblematic of the new and final epoch of human history. The work aims to understand the ways in which various actors conceive their place in society, the state of the nation, as well as visions for the future through story-telling and memory, primarily obtained through interviews. Directly researched issues are apartheid amnesia and discursive limits, performative memory, familial legacies of the past, Rainbowism, Democracy, and contemporary memory. Thematically woven into the research are themes of competing temporalities, debates pertaining to current student movements, the nation’s transitionary period, the Truth and Reconciliation process, controversies over public space and semiotics, and the Marikana Massacre. The work concludes by highlighting a state of uncertainty across different segments of society, a nervousness of sorts. In this context, the work calls for reconceptualising and redefining progress, as well as a new theoretical engagement between human rights and equity.