A politics of reminding: Khoisan resurgence and environmental justice in South Africa’s Sarah Baartman district

Scott Burnett, Nettly Ahmed, Tahn dee Matthews, Junaid Oliephant, Aylwyn M. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the wake of colonial fragmentation and genocide, Indigenous ‘Khoisan resurgence’ movements in South Africa have mobilised subversive forms of authenticity, including heteroglossic and inventive translanguaging from fragments of Khoekhoegowab. In our analysis of video ethnographic texts produced in collaboration with the Gamtkwa Khoisan Council (GKC) in Hankey, the birthplace of Sarah Baartman, we explore how memory, language politics, and environmental activism are interwoven in acts of linguistic citizenship that constitute the ‘rememorying’ of a history that has remained persistently obscured. We argue that rememorying advances a politics of reminding which counters the Rainbow Nation’s institutionalised politics of forgetting, as well as anthropological accounts that consider Indigenous activist invocations of history as merely ‘therapeutic’. Through an engagement with the memory activism of the GKC, we identify how reconstructing word-histories, reliving historical traumas, retelling histories of sites of memory, seeing oneself mirrored in one’s ancestors, and the nexus of land, memory, and time form the basis for shared meaning-making, bringing impetus, focus, and intergenerational continuity to struggles for environmental and land justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-539
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences

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