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Post-Apartheid Modernism and Consumer Culture

Post-Apartheid Modernism and Consumer Culture Rita Barnard In this essay, I wish to extend the terrain of modernist studies and offer a new, perhaps troubling, way of viewing post-apartheid South African literature and culture. After some critical and theoretical ground clearing in the first two sections, I propose to read two contemporary novels in order to test my sense that their shared preoccupations are best grasped if we view them under the rubric of ‘post-apartheid modernism’. I bear in mind, nevertheless, that ‘modernism’ – no less than ‘modernity’ – is best treated as a kind of ‘native category’, which cannot be defined a priori and which does not translate without difficulty.1 As will become clear, I am not proposing an ‘alternative modernity’ in the strongest sense, which would involve identifying irreducible cultural differences that somehow rupture the grand narratives of colonial and capitalist expansion. While my concern is to describe a particular historical context and a set of artistic preoccupations generated by it, I am reluctant to let go of the idea that such preoccupations respond to a singular, if wildly uneven, modernity. Especially since I am speaking here about Africa. For I take to heart James Ferguson’s position that, much as anthropologists http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

Post-Apartheid Modernism and Consumer Culture

Modernist Cultures , Volume 6 (2): 215 – Oct 1, 2011

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press 2011
Subject
Articles; Film, Media and Cultural Studies
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2011.0014
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Rita Barnard In this essay, I wish to extend the terrain of modernist studies and offer a new, perhaps troubling, way of viewing post-apartheid South African literature and culture. After some critical and theoretical ground clearing in the first two sections, I propose to read two contemporary novels in order to test my sense that their shared preoccupations are best grasped if we view them under the rubric of ‘post-apartheid modernism’. I bear in mind, nevertheless, that ‘modernism’ – no less than ‘modernity’ – is best treated as a kind of ‘native category’, which cannot be defined a priori and which does not translate without difficulty.1 As will become clear, I am not proposing an ‘alternative modernity’ in the strongest sense, which would involve identifying irreducible cultural differences that somehow rupture the grand narratives of colonial and capitalist expansion. While my concern is to describe a particular historical context and a set of artistic preoccupations generated by it, I am reluctant to let go of the idea that such preoccupations respond to a singular, if wildly uneven, modernity. Especially since I am speaking here about Africa. For I take to heart James Ferguson’s position that, much as anthropologists

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2011

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