The place of ‘vicarious memories’ in contemporary South Africa

K.S. Pillay


This article examines the role of apartheid memories within a contemporary dispensation. It argues that memories are an important constituent of a democracy which aspires towards social cohesion and social justice ideals.  It examines how a group of post graduate students at a selected university make sense of remembering past atrocities, as vicarious witnesses.  What emerges is a set of competitive responses to remembering the past.  This implies that we have to work much harder at engaging with memories of the past in democratic spaces such as universities, as a way of working towards a fully inclusive national identity.


remembering, forgetting, national identity, university students, vicarious, memories

Full Text:




Achugar, M. 2007. “Between Remembering and Forgetting: Uruguayan Military Discourse About Human Rights (1976-2004).” Discourse and Society 18 (5): 521-547.

Bakhtin. 1981. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Translated by Caryl Emerson & Michael Holoquist (Ed). University Of Texas Press: USA.

Ball. S.J. (2006). Education policy and social class: The selected works of Stephen J. Ball. New York: Routledge.

Barolsky, V. 2013. “Interrogating Social Cohesion: The South African Case.” In Regional Integration and Social Cohesion: Perspectives from the Developing World, edited by Moore, C., 191-217. Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang.

Bevernage, B. 2012. History, Memory, and State-Sponsored Violence: Time and Justice. New York: Routledge.

Booth, W. J. 1999. “Communities of memory: on Identity, Memory & Debt.” The American Political Science Review 93 (2): 249-263.

Brendese, P. 2014. Memory in Democratic Politics. USA: Rochester Press.

Bufon, M. , Gosar, A. , Nurkovic, S. & Sanguine, A. (Eds). 2006. The Western Balkans a European Challenge: on the Decennial of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Koper : Zalozba Annales.

Burchell, G. ; Gordon, C. & Miller, P. (Eds) 1991. The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality: With Two Lectures by and an Interview with Michel Foucault. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Butler, J. 1997. Excitable Speech: a Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge.

Edkins, J. 2003. Trauma and the Memory of Politics. UK: Cambridge University Press.

Fairclough, N. 2003. Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London: Routledge.

Fairclough, N. 2013. Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language (2nd Ed). New York: Routledge.

Foucault, M. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language. New York: Tavistock Publications Limited.

Graham, L. J. 2011. “The Product of Text and “Other” Statements: Discourse Analysis and the Critical Use of Foucault.” Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (6): 663-674.

Hirsch, M. 2008 (Spring). “The Generation of Postmemory.” Poetics Today 29 (1): 103-128. DOI 10.1215/13335372-2007-019. Accessed 10/04/15.

Kamal, N. , Kossner, E. & Rotterenschlager, K. (Eds). 2013. Conference Report Vienna Anthropology Days. Austrian Studies in Social Anthropology. www.Univie.Ac.At/.../%20ASSA-KSA2013_Pastpresentfieldwork.Pdf.

Accessed 10/04/15

McKinney, C. 2007. “Caught Between The ‘Old’ And ‘New’? Talking About ‘Race’ In a Post-Apartheid University Classroom.” Race Ethnicity and Education 10 (2): 215-231. doi: 10.1080/13613320701330734 , Http://Dx.Doi.Org/10.1080/13613320701330734. Access 10/02/15.

Morgan, A. 2010. “Discourse Analysis: An Overview of the Neophyte Researcher.” Journal of Health and Social Care Improvement. May Issue: 1-7. Https://Www.Wlv.Ac.Uk/Pdf/Discourse-Analysis-Dr-A-Morgan.Pdf Accessed 12/02/15.

Mouffe, C. 2009 (December). “Democratic Politics and Agonistic Pluralism.” Paper presented at Seminario Interdisciplinar. December. Consellodacultura.Gal/Mediateca/Extras/Texto_Chantal_Mouffe_Eng.Pdf. Accessed On 04/05/2015.

Oelofse, M. & Oosthuysen, A. 2014. “The knowledge of perceptions of history students of South Africa’s Truth and Reconcilliation Commission (TRC). The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in South Africa. 10 (1): 253-272.

Tzanelli, R. 2007. “Solidarity Amnesia as National Memory: From Habermas to Luhmann.” International Journal of Humanity 5 (4): 253-260.

Weldon, G. 2009. A Comparative Study of the Construction of Memory and Identity in the Curriculum in Societies Emerging from Conflict: Rwanda and South Africa. Unpublished PhD diss., University Of Pretoria.

Willig, C. , Stainton-Rogers, W. (Eds). 2008. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology. Sage Publications: London.

Zelizer, B. 1995. “Reading the Past against the Grain: The Shape of Memory Studies.” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 12: 214-39.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

eISSN: 1753-5913

Copyright © 2016 South African Journal of Higher Education

Hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2016.

Creative Commons License -CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.