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Post-Apartheid Postmortems: Visions of Truth and Reconciliation in White South African Detective Fiction

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Item Summary

Title:Post-Apartheid Postmortems: Visions of Truth and Reconciliation in White South African Detective Fiction
Authors:Gili, Angela
Keywords:Detective Fiction
Post-Apartheid Literature
South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Date Issued:Aug 2015
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2015]
Abstract:This project historicizes the genre of detective fiction in its early formation in postapartheid South Africa, from 1995-2005. The argument that detective fiction is often complicit in reaffirming hegemonic, state-sanctioned visions of justice suggests that the genre has significant limitations as a vehicle for social protest. However, this study resists such a tight circumscription of the genre’s potential for social critique in post-apartheid South Africa, especially given the shifting grounds of political hegemony in the country’s shift to a new democracy. The study demonstrates that the detective fiction novels published during 1995-2005 both engage in a socio-political critique of the structural crimes of colonialism and apartheid that continue to shape the material conditions of people’s lives in the new democracy and perpetuate ideologically conservative visions of crime and justice through some of the novels’ more strict adherence to generic conventions that re-encode racial, gender, and class hierarchies that foreclose or subvert critique. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s work on truth and power and on Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s work on the limits of narration and representation, my analysis of Gillian Slovo’s Red Dust and Mike Nicol’s Ibis Tapestry in chapters one and two demonstrate how Slovo and Nicol use and disrupt the codes of the genre to critique both the genre’s and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s productions of truth and restoration. While these writers work towards aesthetically innovative and politically progressive ends, my analysis of Deon Meyers’ novels Dead before Dying and Dead at Daybreak in chapter three and Richard Kunzmann’s Bloody Harvests and Andrew Brown’s Coldsleep Lullaby in chapter four reveals that these authors’ closer adherence to generic conventions reproduce contained or ideologically conservative attempts at social critique. These latter four novels dramatize deep tensions between visions of unity and emancipation and powerful anxieties about the shattering of identities, increasing social disorder, and the elusiveness of shared, knowable truths. This study examines these tensions through the genre’s fictional engagements with the confessional narrative, slavery, patriarchal violence, negotiations of raced and hybrid identities, and the idioms of belonging shaped in contrast to criminal, occult, and immigrant others.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - English

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