Sulle tracce di Krotöa. Storie, memorie e icone del Sudafrica post-apartheid.
De Angelis, Alessandra (2011) Sulle tracce di Krotöa. Storie, memorie e icone del Sudafrica post-apartheid. Tesi di Dottorato, Università degli Studi di Napoli L'Orientale.
This thesis tackles a pivotal commitment of post-apartheid South Africa. A country that still has to re-think the urgent demands of sociality and cohabitation on the ruins and the wounds of the past. The critical perspective here adopted is sceptical towards every unproblematic ‘grand narrative’ that celebrates the triumph of the ‘Rainbow Nation’. It proceeds side by side with the recovery of Krotöa’s traces, the Khoikhoi interpreter who was partially acculturated to Dutch customs and then abandoned and imprisoned in Robben Island until her death. After centuries of silence her traces emerged in 1950, when a politically committed archivist strove to undo the material and bio-political racist archive of apartheid. Such traces are here collected in the vibrant tissue of differently committed art works, which during the Transition period (1989 - 1995 ca.) focused on her figure. At the heart of this interrogation are not the historical documents: this research talks about the archive in order to reopen its conceptual dualisms and epistemological, philosophical premises, and to discuss again the “messianic” bind between memory, future and their spectres (Jacques Derrida, Mal d’archive. Une impression freudienne, 1995).
Chapter I deals with the aporiae of forgiveness and testimony in the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (the court-like restorative justice body which collected hearings from the victims of the crimes of apartheid, granting amnesty to the perpetrators who confessed and repented). In the background, as if bearing witness, there is Krotöa in her role of “Mother Africa”, whose iconic epistemic validity icon is here questioned. Chapter II offers a philosophical, genealogical and postcolonial research on the archive, which emerges as a ‘forthcoming’ promise, more bounded to the multiple possibilities of the present and the future than to commemoration and the past. Chapters III and IV are dedicated to the literary works that present Krotöa, commencing with the Dutch company’s diaries and the incredibly violent prototype of colonial, racist and sexist discourse that appeared, after the interpreter’s death, in the guise of an obituary in a Cape Town journal. Another paramount theoretical issue discussed in the fourth chapter deals with representation as well as with cultural and artistic translation in the Occidental scopic field. The latter is marked by the epistemic violence of conceptual binarisms which confine the ‘black’ woman to the margins of humankind. In chapter IV Jacques Lacan’s theorization of the gaze as the desiring pulsion in the scopic field proves useful to approach an artistic-psychoanalytical querelle on the legitimacy of writing of Krotöa (as an object of personal scopic desires). In chapter V, more focused on the overcoming of perceptive and discursive limits through visual art and a meta-theoretical approach to translation. Here Krotöa lives on ‘in-between’, in the artistic network which draws on her figure to complicate further the myth of reconciliation, through the fractured horizons of the discursive structures which preceeds and exceeds every form of political hegemony.
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