From Apartheid to Neo Liberation: David Goldblatt and Ivan Vladislavich’s Portraits of South Africa in Transition”

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South Africa, though 15 years into democracy, is still a nation riven by the history of conquest, and the inequalities of apartheid. Those memories remain in the landscape, and on the bodies of the people: monuments to discredited apartheid-era leaders, once proudly tended to, fall into disrepair as the ideas they represented fall out of vogue, while others remain in city squares. David Goldblatt, the South African photographer, and Ivan Vladislavich, the Johannesburg-based writer, comment on how the monuments of apartheid – both physical and conceptual – not only persist, but re-enter the public discourse in wondrous and novel guises. Goldblatt’s images of South African cityscapes in transition, and Vladislavic’s written portraits of Johannesburg probe the way in which apartheid policies, though dismantled in the legal books, have reappeared in the country’s neo-liberal policies. Goldblatt and Vladislavic record the experience of the ordinary woman and man as they eat of monumental change; they document how those who do not have access to power experience extraordinary historical transitions, performing the dramatic changes that accompany a monumental shift in power. My paper explores the confluence of photography, writing, architecture, and the embodied performance of political transition.


Keywords: South Africa, Memorialisation and Memory, Photography, Monuments, Transition, Apartheid, Postcolonial Theory
Stream: Literary Arts Practices
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. M. Neelika Jayawardane

Assistant Professor, Department of English/Global and International Studies (SUNY-Oswego)
Centre for African Studies (University of Cape Town), State University of New York and University of Cape Town

Oswego, NY, USA

M. Neelika Jayawardane is Assistant Professor of English at the State University of New York-Oswego, where she teaches transnational memoirs, post-apartheid literature, new film and fiction of the transnational and postcolonial experience, and courses in globalisation, theory, and culture. She holds a doctorate in English, with a focus in Creative Writing, from the University of Denver, Colorado; her Masters and Bachelors degrees are from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Her primary and secondary education were at an all-girls’ Buddhist school in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and a school set up by the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mining Company in the Copperbelt Province in Zambia. She currently holds a fellowship at the Centre for African Studies in the University of Cape Town, and is working on a book project titled Nothing Indigenous Here, addressing the Western Cape region’s literary, musical, and artistic history, with a focus on diaspora, multiplicity, and transcultuaral influences on South African arts and letters.

Ref: A09P0627