By Kerry Bystrom
Concentrating on aesthetic figuration assorted domestic areas, modes of household lifestyles, and relatives histories, this publication argues that depicting democracy because it unfolds actually at domestic provides a compelling portrait of the intimate and daily facets of swap that may be missed through a spotlight on structural matters in South Africa.
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Additional resources for Democracy at Home in South Africa: Family Fictions and Transitional Culture
This book is a call to think through the importance of imaginative engagements with intimate life and the ways in which these engagements affect the publics they address. For most of Democracy at Home in South Africa, I broach these questions specifically within the time period of the extended democratic transition, with its palpable desire to rewrite the boundaries of the South African community in ways that, perhaps with less and less intensity, ref lect the preoccupations of the immediate transition: the need to redefine South Africa to ref lect the spirit of inclusion and nonracialism embodied by Mandela and embedded in the Constitution, while at the same time being attentive to historical injustice and the continuing poverty facing the black majority.
9 As Gqola puts it, in addition to being “a denial of privilege and complicity,” using “the register of ‘mixed ancestry’” in such a fashion “exoticises this position and trivializes the memory of three and a half centuries of racial terror and pain” (130). It can ultimately become a way to justify identity as a “white African” without attending to the damage done in the historical formulation of this identity (Gqola 112). Further, as it defines relation through biological ties, the family romance outlined here can be seen to reassert the damaging tropes of blood and genes as the basis for belonging in the democratic South Africa at exactly the same moment when different visions were possible (Samuelson Remembering 20).
I then trace how, in this context, activist writers and artists have foregrounded both the traumas and the triumphs of making families and homes of their choosing to broaden understandings of relation and claim a place in the nation. The chapter focuses on depictions of “ordinary” domesticity and acts of hospitality in writing by David Medalie (1998) and Simão Kikamba (2005), images from Jean Brundrit’s photographic series Does your lifestyle depress your mother? (1998), the exhibition Home Affairs (2008) created by Mark Gevisser, Clive van den Berg, and Sharon Cort, and Terry Kurgan’s public photography project Hotel Yeoville (2010).