Remembering Transition in Contemporary South African and Russian Literatures: Between Melancholia and Repair

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Abstract

This chapter outlines and conceptualizes intersections between the structures of post-transitional time and its transformations between the 1990s and the present in South Africa and Russia. It suggests that a transregional consideration of the ways in which the 1980-1990s transitions are recalled in contemporary cultures reveals the emergence of other times that interrupt the disenchanted present and differ from memories of colonial/imperial oppression or nostalgic longing. These temporalities elucidate the longue durée of current crises and invoke past hopes for emancipation while refusing teleological temporalities. By turning to works of Russophone and South African literature of the 2010s I explore the mnemonic modes through which they engage with the ‘structures of feeling’ that reflect the conditions of the post-Cold war neoliberal present, after socialist and after anticolonial visions of history as emancipatory processes mobilized in struggles for social equality. My reading juxtaposes four novels - first, Alexei Ivanov’s Nenastye (Nasty Weather) and Nthikeng Mohlele’s Small Things, and second, Nadia Davids’ An Imperfect Blessing and Daria Dimke’s Zimniaia i letniaia forma nadezhdy (Winter and Summer Forms of Hope) - and outlines two modes of memory that each pair exemplifies: melancholia and repair. Despite the difference of temporalities and affect, these texts share a structure of ambiguity in their remembering transitions as times of crisis, loss, or even trauma, but simultaneously of hope, of aspiration, and the shock of new possibilities. Thus, the chapter begins theorizing memories of transition as a possible nexus between postsocialist and postcolonial perspectives on transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRemembering Transitions
Subtitle of host publicationLocal Revisions and Global Crossings in Culture and Media
EditorsKsenia Robbe
PublisherDe Gruyter
Pages285-311
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9783110707793
ISBN (Print)9783110707700
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4-Oct-2023

Publication series

NameMedia and Cultural Memory
PublisherDe Gruyter
Volume38
ISSN (Print)1613-8961

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