The VCU Department of English will host a lecture by Postdoctoral Fellow Jason D. Price as a part on its “English Faculty Forum” lecture series. The lecture will take place Wednesday, March 1 at 12:00pm in Hibbs 308. Topic: “Politics Beyond Rights and Representation: Animal Affect and Indigenous Desire in South African Literature.” All English Faculty Forum events are free and open to the public.
“Politics Beyond Rights and Representation: Animal Affect and Indigenous Desire in South African Literature”
In August of 2012, following the massacre at the Marikana mines where South African police forces shot over one hundred striking miners, killing thirty-four, one miner interviewed for the world news report explained his opinion after this event that his life was now no different than it was under the apartheid regime. How could life in the “new” South Africa, under a new democratically elected government, seem to be so very much the same, in this man’s opinion, as his life under the violent apartheid regime? In addition to this miner’s perspective, several contemporary South African novels, perhaps most notably J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, offer rather bleak views of “post-apartheid” South Africa as continuing in many ways the violences of the past. How, then, to bring about different ways of living? How to transform social relations away from neocolonial repetitions of the apartheid and colonial pasts toward something that could truly be considered different? This paper considers how, despite their often pessimistic pronouncements on the state of the “new” South Africa, contemporary South African novels nonetheless point to a potential way out of the same ways of thinking toward different and new living conditions and organizations of society. Through a reading of Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness, a novel that weaves together a colonial era narrative with a story set in contemporary post-apartheid South Africa, this paper argues that more positive relations between humans, animals, and the environment might arise from affective encounters with animals and certain indigenous notions of desire.