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South African life stories under apartheid : imprisonment, exile, homecoming

Apartheid South Africa was variously imprisoned, exiled, and engaged in the task of homecoming. This troika permeated society as reality, symbol and creative capital; as a political reality each of the experiences distilled the diverse human possibilities and potentials of apartheid. This is a study of the linked political encounters of detention/imprisonment, exile and homecoming, as well as the more general dynamics of oppression and resistance and the culture of violence, through the life story genre. Within the dynamics of struggle the focus of the thesis is on the transformative nature of resistance, in particular auto/biographical counter-discourses, as a means through which opponents of apartheid retained/regained agency and power. The main aim of the thesis is to articulate and apply a theory of life story praxis in the context of political contestation. The theory has five main components. Firstly, the life story in such contexts is marked by the imperative for narratives to be provisional, partial, tactical, to be managed in accordance with an evolving political purpose. The second component relates to the violent collaboration of state and opponent in identity construction and interpretation. This argument facilitates, as the third theoretical premise, a broad definition of texts that either are auto/biographical or impact upon the context and process of narration. Fourthly, lives are told many times over, identities are repeatedly un/remade, within an arena that is dense with prior versions and/or a discursive void. Finally, I argue that the ownership and meaning of life story narratives are provisional and contested while retaining a dominant narrative and political truth. In the main body of the thesis this theory is applied to the life stories of incarceration, exile, and homecoming.
Date January 1997
CreatorsGready, Paul
PublisherSOAS, University of London
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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