Mourning Becomes …

Post/memory, commemoration and the concentration camps of the South African War
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Dimensions and Pages: 215 x 155 mm, 328 pp
  • EAN: 9781868144754
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 100.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): n/a

The recent centenary commemoration of the South African War of 1899-1902 sparked a veritable flood of publications on the conflict … [but] only a handful of analyses opened up significant new perspectives. Liz Stanley, a sociologist from Edinburgh University, was alive to the possibility and has produced a book which, if not the final word on the subject, will certainly be an essential starting point for all future scholars.

—Albert Grundlingh, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

This fascinating work challenges many of the accepted facts about the concentration camps run by the British during the South African War. The author demonstrates that much of what we have traditionally understood about these camps originates from the testimony which was solicited, selected and published by key women activists within Boer proto-nationalist circles. Using detailed archival evidence, Stanley shows that much of the history of the camps results from a deliberate imposition of ‘post/memory’ – a process by which what was ‘remembered’ was shaped and reshaped to support the development of a racialised nationalist framework.

Many of the camps’ occupants died from successive epidemics rather than deliberate ill-treatment, yet the book shows how mourning for those who died was overridden by state commemorative activities concerned with promoting pan-Boer nationalist aspirations. The innovative approach of the author invites the reader to explore the commemorative sites passed by nationalist land acts, which still powerfully mark the South African landscape.

Liz Stanley is Professor of Sociology at the University of  Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

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