Power, discourse and South African resistance literature : a provisional exploration
Geertsema, Johan Hendrik Johan Hendrik
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In this dissertation the possibilities of resistance through literary text is examined. This is done in an exploratory and provisional way on the one band because of the fast changing South African situation and on the other because of the wide variety of views on literature as resistance. Some theoretical positions with regard to the power of discourse are examined in order to arrive at some sort of provisional synthesis which could be used to read and explain texts in terms of resistance. In the first part of the dissertation there is an attempt to read various theories and theoretical implications in terms of resistance. The implications of positions such as that of ”deconstruction”, orthodox Marxism, Neo-Marxism and Foucauldian New Historicism is discussed. In the second part of the dissertation two recent South African novels (Amandla by Miriam Tlali and Third Generation by Sipho Sepamla) are discussed as exemplars of texts which present themselves as texts opposing and resisting the status quo. They are shown to make themselves guilty of what they attack by for instance, stereotypical portrayal of women and of characters seen to be in cahoots with the system of apartheid. The result of this is that the texts in question would theoretically perpetuate the status quo by replicating its ideological structure of exploitation and prejudice. The only way in which these texts can fulfil their stated task of conscientisation is by denying the contradictions built into their ideological structures. This imaginary resolution is attained by means of the trope of exile. The analyses of the texts in terms of the theoretical part of the dissertation would seem to lead one to a profound scepticism with regard to the possibilities of resistance through literary and other texts. Even though there do exist the possibilities of creating spaces alternative to that of the hegemonic culture, this hegemonic culture is found to be almost overwhelmingly strong. Areas for future research are pointed out in the Postscript. These include the very essential task of creating a culture which will ensure unity, prosperity and justice in South Africa. It is suggested that such a truly democratic culture could only with great difficulty evolve and that the first step towards such a culture would consist transcending the untenable oppositions of apartheid. This MA dissertation is then essential in such a process as it examines the possibilities as well as the assumptions underlying the relations between power and discourse. This it does with special reference to the South African situation as manifested in South African literature.
- Humanities