Upcoming Africa at Noon Events
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Protest, Pain, and Place: Visual Geographies of South African Women’s Activism Against Apartheid
Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and African Art History
Wheaton College in Massachusetts
This presentation considers the ways in which women’s participation in the struggle for democracy is represented and remembered in South Africa’s post apartheid visual culture. I focus on a number of attempts at public memorial after apartheid, including sites that provide scant if any attention to the role of women despite their claims to tell the story of the struggle, as well as the handful of sites that are dedicated specifically to women. In each of these cases I consider the extent to which women’s contributions as participants in the struggle are made available to the public, and the messages these sites convey about the perceived importance of women’s political roles during – and directly after – apartheid. I will argue that, despite some monuments to and including females, there has in fact been a general marginalization of women in post-apartheid commemorative sites, and in conclusion will suggest that this not only has implications for the telling of history but it may also very well affect women’s ability to in Cynthia Enloe’s words, “sustain an authentic political life in post-war periods.”
Kim Miller is Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and African Art History at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she also Coordinates the Women’s Studies Program. Miller’s research focuses on the role and evidence of art in the question of political agency for women. Her current book project examines the extent to which women’s participation in the struggle for democracy is represented and remembered, and in many cases forgotten, in contemporary South African visual culture and commemorative sites.