Discourse, Memory, and Post-Apartheid South African Archives
15 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2015 Last revised: 23 Oct 2015
Date Written: July 13, 2015
Drawing upon recent literature in archival studies and memories, this paper provides a theoretical treatment of how political interests use discourse to shape not only the memories of persons, but their subjectivity. Put abstractly, at some point epistemology has to turn into ontology; deliberately partial epistemologies are significant insofar that it can control the ontological status of persons, and thus the kinds of political claims they are able to make. I use post-Apartheid South Africa archival transformations as an illustrative case. Herein, I suggest that the deliberate and conscious transformation of production of history and of its public representation in South Africa is used as a political tool to legitimize rule. In this we see attempts to gain ownership and control over archives and their content as involved in justifying a particular means of rule through the creation of idealized past.
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