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“I question why I understand what she has said” – Language and decolonial justice in Koleka Putuma’s debut poetry collection Collective Amnesia

Chelsea, Haith; (2018) “I question why I understand what she has said” – Language and decolonial justice in Koleka Putuma’s debut poetry collection Collective Amnesia. Moveable Type , 10 , Article 3. 10.14324/111.1755-4527.081. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper functions as part review, part ethnographic account of the collection’s publication and the conditions in the society that facilitated its success. I seek to articulate the intervention that Collective Amnesia has made into the South African mainstream literary consciousness, a collection which reflects the complex experience of being in, and of, post- transitional South Africa, and reaches back into the long histories in the country’s complicated racial and gender politics. I will explore questions of decolonial justice in relation to Collective Amnesia, particularly with regard to South Africa’s canon and the collection’s position as a cultural text or object in South African popular culture. In 2017 I worked at uHlanga Press as one of only two employees who produced, publicised, and marketed Collective Amnesia. I watched its meteoric rise from a privileged vantage point, and will draw on some of my experiences and observations in my discussion of this collection as a cultural phenomenon. I hope that the duality of my approach, from both cultural and publishing perspectives, speaks to the concerns of the production, study and teaching of “literatures in English” in the post-transitional milieu of South Africa which concerns so many of my colleagues in both industries.

Type: Article
Title: “I question why I understand what she has said” – Language and decolonial justice in Koleka Putuma’s debut poetry collection Collective Amnesia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.14324/111.1755-4527.081
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.14324/111.1755-4527.081
Language: English
Additional information: © 2018 Chelsea Haith. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Fallism, South Africa, Rainbowism, Koleka Putuma, Collective Amnesia, feminism, black feminism, poetry, spoken word, publishing history, material cultures, Fanon, Achille Mbembe, Barbara Boswell, Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe, post-transition, transition, apartheid.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10053690
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