Annotated Bibliography: Monsters: The figure of the perpetrator in Antjie Krog’s Country of my Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa.

My paper will explore the more or less natural tendency to cast modern perpetrators of mass violence out of the realm of humanity both the general public and authors often manifest.To what extent Antjie Krog’s nonfiction buys into that or avoid such a pitfall in that post-apartheid context? We know that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to facilitate national reconciliation by creating a public record of human rights violation, it will be particularly interesting to see how Krog depicts the perpetrators as individuals and members of a culture and the way in which, being an Afrikaner herself, she will very likely tend to distantiate herself from them.

  • Schaffer, Kay, and Sidonie Smith. “Human Rights, Storytelling, and the Position of the Beneficiary: Antjie Krog’s ‘Country of My Skull.’” PMLA5 (2006): 1577–1584.

This text complicates the restorative justice theory within the context of the TRC as it does not only examine the ‘positions’ of perpetrator and victim but also the position of the beneficiary, in other words, those people who were part of the system and benefitted from it whether or not they directly committed atrocities.

  • Coetzee, Carli. “‘They Never Wept, the Men of My Race’: Antjie Krog’s ‘Country of My Skull’ and the White South African Signature.” Journal of Southern African Studies4 (2001): 685–696.

Carli Coetzee discusses the fact that, in Country of my Skull, Krog addresses her fellow Afrikaans-speakers but also the new South Africa in its entirety. I am interested in seeing the balance Krog has to find between rejecting what has arguably become part of her Afrikaner culture while still embracing it for lack of any viable alternative.

  • Nuttall, Sarah, and Carli Coetzee, eds. Negotiating the Past: The Making of Memory in South Africa. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.

Among the 18 authors that contributed to this book, we will probably focus on Steven Robins’s who notably addresses how accounts of collective suffering are often recycled to justify further negative racial discourse as when tales of Boer hardships at the hand of the British were used to fuel racial agenda that implied oppression of the black South Africans.

  • Arendt, Hannah, and Amos Elon. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. 1 edition. New York, N.Y: Penguin Classics, 2006.

In the same way as Krog reported on the TRC hearings Hannah Arendt’s ground breaking work is based on reporting on the trial of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann. Although the Nuremberg trial was nothing like restorative justice, it is very hard not to compare depictions of apartheid monsters and Nazi monsters.

  • Payne, Leigh A. Unsettling Accounts: Neither Truth nor Reconciliation in Confessions of State Violence. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2008. Print.

With examples from various areas of the world including Brazil, Argentina, Chile and South Africa, Payne examines rich confessional material and discusses the public effects of confession and highlights the complexities inherent to the disclosure of atrocities of perpetrators like in South African TRC. Payne’s perceiving perpetrators’ behavior as ‘human’ and not an aberration is reminiscent of Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem.

  • Gallagher, Susan Vanzanten. “‘I Want to Say: / Forgive Me’: South African Discourse and Forgiveness.” PMLA2 (2002): 303–306. Print.

TRC grants legal amnesty to some of the perpetrators but does it offer forgiveness? Are apologies and contrition terminology necessary? Does amnesty and amnesia walk hand in hand? Such are the questions that Professor Susan Gallagher deals with.

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