Title of Award

Northern Michigan University Faculty Research Grant

Recipient's Department


Document Type


Year of Award


Awarding Organization

Northern Michigan University

Reason for Award

Literature is ever evolving, particularly in a new democratic nation state, such as South Africa. Earlier writings that I used to teach from the first decade after apartheid ended reflected on the old oppressive nation, with elements of ‘restoration’ for past atrocities; new writers from the margins that I’m interested in researching are critical of the new regime, but are also looking ahead with optimism and foregrounding new beginnings. As literature slowly transform from critiques of apartheid policies and legacies into critiques of neo-colonialism this past decade, many new questions arise: Has the obsession with apartheid declined, or are the remains of apartheid still visible in segregated townships and in social and economic conditions which prevent equality of opportunity? Or, are exploitation and corruption to be detected in the African nationalist government, which continues to base its practice on the norms of the old apartheid regime? Are there critiques of corruption and exploitation of the government and key social personalities?

Narrating the new nation has raised interesting questions around the notions of value, around the idea of new South African literature and around issues of complicity by academe and publishing houses in the exclusion of certain writings. Prominent writers, such Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing, J.M. Coetzee, Athol Fugard, and Andre Brink, and their texts are significant and well known. The shift of excluded writings—particularly from Indian diasporic writers, from the “Coloured” and from the gay and lesbian communities—from the periphery to the center is an important cultural imperative in the process of narrating the new nation and nation-building. Recent research on South African writings (Chetty, 2010; Rastogi, 2008; Govinden, 2008; Frankel 2010) reveal that minority literature has been neglected in academia and in the larger South African and global reading community, in spite of the existence of a significant range of literature from the margins.

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