Democracy at Home in South Africa: Family Fictions and by Kerry Bystrom

By Kerry Bystrom

Targeting aesthetic figuration diversified domestic areas, modes of household existence, and relatives histories, this ebook argues that depicting democracy because it unfolds actually at domestic provides a compelling portrait of the intimate and daily facets of swap that may be neglected via a spotlight on structural issues in South Africa.

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Most importantly, it valorized coloured, Indian, and black African heritage as a source of pride, strength, and cultural capital in the “new” nation. It also allowed white individuals to shed their manufactured separateness and embrace the biological ties that may have existed between them and their ancestors of different races. 7 Such a reading of the family romance resonates with the work of feminist social geographer Catherine Nash, who argues—against an older critical tradition that simplistically dismisses genealogy as a vehicle for upholding exclusionary social formations and conceptions of identity— that the popular practice of writing family trees is a way of not only “describing” but also “producing” relations that may have transformative effects (16–18).

Homes with open doors and gaping windows; . . homes that are risky but habitable” (ibid. 130–32, 135). Such an opening up of family and home resonates with wider postcolonial, feminist, and queer rereadings. 18 Samuelson, through her reference to the “unhomely” above and more widely, calls attention to Homi Bhabha’s critically important revaluation of the Freudian uncanny (Remembering 195–201). Pointing to the way politics insistently invade private spaces and indeed cannot be separate from them, Bhabha defines the uncanny as “the shock of recognition of ‘the-homein-the-world, the-world-in-the-home’” and suggests that artists use the alternative space and time of the aesthetic realm to mark the unhomely, to make it recognizable (“The World” 141; see also Samuelson Remembering and “Walking”; van der Vlies “The People” 504).

They thread between an emphasis on the trauma of the past and the possibility that attention to the past may open up different presents and futures; between recognition of the divisions that continue to structure South African society and insistence on forms of intimacy that may disrupt such division. 25 Putting such approaches into dialogue allows us to move across and between registers that often seem to fully and on their own encapsulate questions about family and domestic life—to tease out the I N T RO DU C T ION 21 public importance of personal ref lections while keeping a grasp on the centrality of attending to individual, embodied experience when using the language and iconographies of home and family in more symbolic ways.

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