In appraisals of Antjie Krog's Country of My Skull, critics reiterate the failures of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and criticize Krog's use of victim testimonies. Critics have paid particular attention to the ways in which Krog moves between multiple subject positions as a white South African woman, a journalist, and an Afrikaner. These conflictual positionings are, in part, held responsible for what is seen as her inability to deal critically with the failures of the TRC. While there is certainly merit to these readings of Krog, this essay explores methods of reading Krog's memoir beyond her controversial use of testimonies. As a radio journalist, Krog captures the importance of media processes in constituting sites of witnessing. Specifically, she underlines the importance of the broadcast system that carried out the testifying voice and created communities of listeners. In reading Country of My Skull alongside Rian Malan's My Traitor's Heart, another contentious memoir about apartheid, I suggest that narratives reporting the aftermath of violence on people may inherently always betray victims since writers and readers invariably move to forms of closure. It is important then that readerly sensibilities to apparatuses of transmission are interrogated.
Abusive Narratives: Antjie Krog, Rian Malan, and the Transmission of Violence
Taiwo Adetunji Osinubi; Abusive Narratives: Antjie Krog, Rian Malan, and the Transmission of Violence. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 May 2008; 28 (1): 109–123. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-2007-059
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