Source: (2008) Cultural Dynamics. 20(2):167-192.
Increasingly today, Fanon’s imagination of the postcolonial subject of difference is reconceived in the mode of an international human rights discourse along the lines of reconciliation and reparations. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has become the paradigmatic instance of a state mechanism capable of inducing the change from nationalist to politico-social consciousness; so pervasive is its influence that Moroccan and Algerian commissions refer explicitly to the South African example and openly cite it as a model of reconciling the people. This article examines the ways that women’s testimony of political violence is called upon in the nationalist postcolony to signify both a primitive sphere outside the boundaries of national memory and public debate and the progressive character of inclusion at the advent of the new state. This paradox is illustrated in the South African TRC’s commitment to symbolic reparation and to providing a space for women’s testimony despite the refusal of most women to testify. What conceptions of the human are naturalized in state-mandated projects of healing that depend upon such narratives? What new forms of subjection and resistance await the citizens of the modern postcolonial state? It is with these questions about the power of the symbol to deny `voice’ while granting the rights of speech that I turn to Asia Djebar’s Blanc de l’AlgÃ©rie, Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull and Zoe Wicomb’s David’s Story as a counter to the politics of testimony. (author’s abstract)
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