Confronting Disillusionment: On the Rediscovery of Socialist Archives in Recent South African Cultural Production

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In recent years, South African literature, art, and cultural criticism have been registering the feelings of disappointment, nostalgia, and of a general impasse that signify a crisis of postapartheid imaginations. At the same time, we can observe a turn in cultural production toward reexamining South Africa's socialist archives and reconnecting them to the present-day predicaments and emerging social movements. Reading these processes in Imraan Coovadia's latest novel, artworks by Haroon Gunn-Salie, and an exhibition by the Stellenbosch Open Forum, this article argues that they confront the feelings of postapartheid disillusionment by critically re-invoking memories of the 1970-80s socialist practices in South Africa and the transnational frameworks they involved. It argues that these changing approaches to the socialist archives can be read as a decolonial critique, which links the described trends in South African culture to other post-dependence (and specifically, post-socialist) contexts worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-415
Number of pages18
JournalSafundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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