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The threat of history: Post-apartheid genea-logic and apartheid-generation Afrikaner life chronicles.

Author: Kathleen Lorne McDougall; University of Chicago.
Publisher: 2013.
Dissertation: Ph. D. University of Chicago, Division of the Social Sciences, Department of Anthropology 2013
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material   Computer File : English
Summary:
Afrikaner genealogical knowledge upheld apartheid: family trees were the proof of separable races and cultures. Nationalism was considered transmissible through the blood, across generations. As evidence of cultural history, genealogies indexed humanity and 'Culture' for a volk that felt itself under threat from 'Nature' and supposed savagery. Yet genealogical epistemology of race and culture was also apartheid's  Read more...
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Details

Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Computer File, Archival Material, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Kathleen Lorne McDougall; University of Chicago.
ISBN: 9781303228957 1303228955
OCLC Number: 875700743
Notes: Advisor: Jean Comaroff.
Description: 261 pages

Abstract:

Afrikaner genealogical knowledge upheld apartheid: family trees were the proof of separable races and cultures. Nationalism was considered transmissible through the blood, across generations. As evidence of cultural history, genealogies indexed humanity and 'Culture' for a volk that felt itself under threat from 'Nature' and supposed savagery. Yet genealogical epistemology of race and culture was also apartheid's weak point: genealogies provided evidence of the instability of the race concept, since cross-racial family ties are evident from the earliest colonial times. Moreover, rather than proving humanity, genealogical epistemology was used to dehumanize. Tracing a 'genea-logic' through the diverse sites of Afrikaner genealogical research, separatism and genetic disease science research, I discuss forms of knowing and not-knowing apartheid's excesses, labors complicated by widespread continued investment in apartheid-style narratives of black threat to whites. I approach post-apartheid Afrikaner genealogical historical forms as ways, firstly, of connecting 'now' and 'then.' This labor is (paradoxically) made more difficult because 'ordinary' life in the present still feels altogether too much like the past, despite what is 'historically' a dramatic socio-political change. In other words, social change on a 'macro'-level is difficult to appreciate on a 'micro'-level - or the relation between 'History' and 'life' is difficult to parse in understanding the demise of apartheid. And, so, my interlocutors also work, secondly, to conceptualize a new relation between the personal and the collective (between, for instance, volk and personal history, volk and personal destiny). At stake in both labors of culture is personal culpability for 'political' wrongdoing in the past, and, more importantly, personal culpability in a present-day politics of privilege. I theorize a genealogical approach to social change over time as a kind of epistemological 'wild zone', for all that genealogy is highly structured, and, so, understand genea-logic as a creative discursive form in which change moves backwards through time.

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