"On the fringe of dreamtime...": South African Indian literature, race and the boundaries of scholarship
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMy dissertation addresses a lacuna of contemporary scholarship by utilizing South African Indian literature as a lens through which to view South African culture in a different light. Drawing on South African Indian writings emerging post-1976, I explore this fiction as a cultural history that investigates how race is negotiated in Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa. I have found that the seemingly marginal construction of South African Indian identity is central to understanding the ideological underpinnings of South African culture as it destabilizes rigid constructions of race. In part because of its location outside of the dominant black/white taxonomy in South Africa, this literature problematizes bounded notions of race by undermining culturally constructed oppositions that establish difference and sameness. Ideas of "Indianness" are therefore crucial to understanding cultural and institutional relations in South Africa more broadly as they reveal how race, power and politics operate outside of dominant racial oppositions, thereby repositioning the terms of the debates. Narrative in post-Apartheid South Africa forms a dialogue with both the silences of Apartheid and those of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. My work therefore investigates how literary texts undermine culturally constructed oppositions that establish difference and sameness, in dialogue with the re-textualizing processes of the TRC. I concentrate on contemporary South African Indian fiction of the last twenty-five years, including Achmat Dangor's Kafka's Curse (1997) and Bitter Fruit (2001), Farida Karodia's Other Secrets (2000), Beverley Naidoo's Out of Bounds (2001), Agnus Sam's Jesus is Indian and Other Stories (1989), Jayapraga Reddy's On the Fringe of Dreamtime and Other Stories (1987), Imraan Coovadia's The Wedding (2001) and Shamin Sarif's The World Unseen (2001).
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies