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Authors: Mbatha, Thembelani
Advisors: GikandiNishikawa, SimonKinohi E
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: Black Memory Studies
Herero and Nama Genocide
Post-Apartheid Writing
Postcolonial Witnessing
SS Mendi
Zanele Muholi
Subjects: English literature
African literature
African history
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The historical figurations of the traumatic events of the 1904 – 1908 Herero and Nama genocide, the SS Mendi shipwreck of 1917, and the apartheid and post-apartheid periods form the background of this dissertation. Taking these as the point of departure, Registers of Black Witnessing: Archives of Twentieth-Century Southern Africa and the Poetics of Testimony, sets out a literary-photographic history of twentieth-century Southern Africa as a critique of existing formulations of witnessing and mourning. Identifying in the scholarship around the politics of trauma and testimony gaps that render black and African tragedies illegible within the historiographies of modernity, this dissertation intervenes in these conversations by way of theorizing registers of witnessing that may emerge from our critical engagements with the particularities of these African events. Registers of Black Witnessing’s original contribution to these debates lies in its willingness to interrogate the relationship between the politics of testimony and black racial formation both in (Southern) Africa and the African diaspora. Seeking to depart from scholarship that has critiqued the literatures of testimony while retaining inherited constructions of blackness, Registers of Black Witnessing contends that if blackness is historically constituted through its encounters with colonial traumas, then the decolonization of the politics of testimony brought to these three moments of the twentieth century cannot happen without an attendant recharting of the cartographies of this socio-ontological site. This dissertation, thus, sets to offer a decolonized framework of testimony and witnessing while investigating the implications of this on contemporary and future discussions of blackness. It does this by bringing together different aesthetic modalities – the writings of Jackie Sibblies Drury, Fred Khumalo, Nadine Gordimer, Lisa Fugard, Koleka Putuma, the self-narration of Hendrick Witbooi, and the photography of Zanele Muholi – in order to theorize these registers of black witnessing and to trace their discursive implications on blackness.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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