South Africa's Struggle to Remember : Contested Memories of Squatter Resistance in the Western Cape book cover
1st Edition

South Africa's Struggle to Remember
Contested Memories of Squatter Resistance in the Western Cape

ISBN 9781138386402
Published September 18, 2018 by Routledge
196 Pages

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Book Description

Transitional justice studies typically focuses on how nations remember, face and deal with histories of past violence. This book, however, shifts the frame from national discourses of transitional justice onto local memory actors who attempt to engage with these broader systems of meaning from below. The case study is based on the memory struggles of individuals and groups who are attempting to gain access to the discourses and benefits associated with dominant memory identities of ‘victim’ and ‘veteran’ in the context of post-transition South Africa. They share a common history of squatter resistance in the Western Cape in the 1980s and a common struggle for inclusion in dominant memory frameworks.

The main theme of this book is the politics of memory, as it relates to the conversation between national and local memory. Integrated within this theme is the further theme of alternative histories and counter-memories of struggle from below. In focusing on counter memories of violence and transition this book aims to tell a different version of South African liberation history in relation to the dominant narrative. It analyses local memory actors' attempts to bring their lived histories into conversation with national discourses of reconciliation and the national liberation struggle. In doing so it unpacks a memory paradox occurring within these narratives, which highlights the politics of inclusion and exclusion within the frames of transitional justice knowledge. On the one hand this alternate story exposes the paradox between local and national memory while on the other hand it brings into focus the local experience of the intersection between international transitional justice discourses and national transition politics.

This book will be of local and international interest to scholars and students in the field of transitional justice, memory politics, national liberation struggle and South African historiography. It will also be of interest to a broader South Africa public, as it offers a deeper understanding of South Africa’s history, which challenges taken for granted transitional justice frames of knowledge.

Table of Contents

1. Histories of struggle and violence  2. Transitional justice memory frames  3. Unfolding a memory paradox  4. Narratives of struggle and violence  5. Narratives of transition: Disillusionment and dependency  6. Reclaiming people's power in local memory  7. Hegemony and agency in memory narratives

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Kim Wale is a post-doctoral fellow in Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, South Africa. As a Commonwealth Scholar, she completed her PhD in post-conflict development at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, United Kingdom. Dr Wale is co-editor and co-author of the book Class in Soweto (2013, UKZN Press), which was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by the CHOICE review journal for academic libraries.


"This study ...uti-lises a unique and often stirring collection of voices expressing suffering, confusion and indignation in relation to the past and present to put forward insightful argu-ments about power in transitional societies."

Danielle Van Zyl-Hermann, University of the Free State, African Affairs, April 2017, Vol 4116, Issue 463