Autobiographical Writing in a Time of Uncertainty
The birth of the ‘new South Africa’ has brought with it a proliferation of commentaries and essays, autobiographies, memoirs, and personal reminiscences, and realist documentaries that explore the quandaries of social institutions and individuals as they attempt to deal honestly and forthrightly with the multiple legacies of tyranny, repression, and rebellion. Individual memories only become meaningful when they become social, that is, when they are shared and cross over into the realm of collective-cultural remembrance. As a kind of first-person narrative convention, these forms of written expression have entered into public discourses as factually-based stories, or mementos, that reflect their particular times and places in history. Autobiographical writing in the aftermath of historical trauma is a cultural manifestation of the personal need to rid oneself of the burden of history, or a kind of therapeutic undertaking designed to reconcile oneself with the past.
Keywords: Collective memory and selective forgetting, Contemporary (post-apartheid) South Africa, Heritage and tourism studies, Commemorative practices, Monuments and memorials, Museums and public exhibitions, Thanotourism, Traumascapes
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