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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The DNA of the democratic South Africa: ancestral maps, family trees, genealogical fictions
Author:Bystrom, KerryISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:national identity
About persons:ZoŽ Wicomb (1948-)ISNI
Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014)
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03057070802685668
Abstract:This article focuses on the discourse of popular science - and particularly that of genetics and evolution - as it has been used in the democratic South Africa to develop and articulate a shared 'African' national identity. Analysing speeches by politicians and academics, as well as sites of popular culture ranging from television shows to the Maropeng centre at the Cradle of Humankind, it explores how a new 'evolutionary family narrative', in which all humans are understood to have an African 'mother', has been harnessed in an attempt to guarantee 'belonging' to citizens of all races. The article further shows how this specific genetic family narrative is one of a larger network of 'genealogical fictions' that have been fabricated and produced in part for the purpose of redefining the national community in the post-apartheid era, and which tend to reiterate the basic tropes of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century nation-building projects in the new millennium. Finally, the article analyses two novels - ZoŽ Wicomb's 'David's Story' and Nadine Gordimer's 'Get a Life' - that debate the continuing usefulness of such genealogical fictions in the work of building a contemporary democratic nationalism. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]