"Accorded a Place in the Design": Torture in Post-Apartheid Cinema


Now published:

Goldberg, E. S. (2012). Chap. 8. "Accorded a place in the design”: Torture in post-apartheid cinema. In M. Flynn, & F. Salek (Eds.), A screening torture : Media representations of state terror and political domination (pp. 167-190) Columbia University Press.

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‘Accorded a Place in the Design’ studies films made in South Africa and in the U.S. after the end of apartheid that address the legacies of torture by the apartheid state. Exploring the films’ representations of apartheid-era torture in the context of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I argue that it is precisely the nature of the TRC as part of a state apparatus—‘new’ as it may have been—which potentially compromises its standing as a forum for healing and restoring the dignity of those most harmed by the apartheid system. Further, I argue that this understanding of the TRC sheds light upon the differential treatment it receives in post-apartheid films made in South Africa and in the U.S., respectively, specifically illuminating why U.S. films consistently focus upon the TRC as vehicle par excellence for redemption, forgiveness, and (re)conciliation, while South African films often tell their stories of post-apartheid working through in the shadows of the TRC, outside the circle of light cast by international media attention and inside other individual or communal spaces: the home, the workplace, schools, burial grounds or other sacred memorial spaces.

Academic Division

Arts and Humanities


African Studies | Human Rights Law

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