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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Translation and Transformation in Postapartheid Johannesburg
by Steyn, Jan, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2010, 131; 13833826
Abstract (Summary)

According to the idiom, if Johannesburg sneezes, South Africa gets a cold. This thesis looks to postapartheid Johannesburg to get a prognosis, not only for South Africa, but for the globe. The historical forces of globalization has seen formerly isolated cultures forced to interact, to negotiate, to find a common language. World cities are a privileged space for encounters of particular “local” cultures with the generic global and with each other. As the most important economic center of Sub-Saharan Africa, Johannesburg has long been a nexus for labor, but during colonialism and after that during apartheid, the many cultures have, with debatable success, been actively kept separate. After apartheid, Johannesburg has had a particularly urgent need for a fostering of inter-cultural understanding, for the work of cultural translation. But this work comes into conflict with the need to archive and commemorate the country’s divisive past. This conflict is traced out by investigating some of the cultural products that have come out of the city over the past twenty years. The introduction sets up the theoretical background for considering cultural translation, but never loses sight of the specificity of Johannesburg. Chapter 1 provides a bird’s eye-view perspective of Johannesburg and, with Phaswane Mpe, considers the implications of taking such a perspective. Chapter 2 considers two approaches to making art about the local other by looking at work by Steven Cohen and William Kentridge. Chapter 3 explores the themes of hybridity, mobility and the enduring presence of the apartheid imaginary on visions of Johannesburg’s future in the recent blockbuster film, District 9. Chapter 4 brings together questions of the local and the global with questions of history by looking at William Kentridge’s artistic oeuvre.

Indexing (document details)
School: The American University of Paris (France)
School Location: France
Source: MAI 58/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: South African Studies
Keywords: apartheid
Publication Number: 13833826
ISBN: 978-0-438-79578-5
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