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Aesthetics of Trauma: Transgenerational Memory and the Poetics of Repair

Interest in the study of the traumatic repercussions of violent histories on descendants of victims and survivors has proliferated in the sub-field of memory and trauma studies, with earlier research in the field focusing mainly on descendants of Holocaust survivors. Focusing exclusively on descendants of victims and survivors, these studies tend to lay emphasis on transgenerational effects that are individual psychological, or those produced via family dynamics and familial memory and behaviour patterns. In this sense then, descendants’ encounters with the traumatic past are understood to be mediated, to occur through affective imagination inspired by among other experiences, stories, images, and patterns of behaviour that descendants of victims and survivors encounter when growing up. This understanding of the transgenerational repercussions of violent histories fails to acknowledge that in cases of protracted violence, descendants of victims and survivors are not only personally confronted by the consequences of the violent oppression that their forebears had to endure; they must also experience the enduring structural realities of the socio-economic violence of the past directly. In post-apartheid South Africa for example, the context that will form the backbone of this book project, the resonances in the violence with the system of oppression and domination have resurfaced in new ways. This issue of the translation of systems of domination from the past into the present, and the projection of these forms of repetition into the future, is what this book concerned with.


Fellows involved in this project

South Africa

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