Women's testimonies of the concentration camps of the South African war : 1899-1902 and after
This thesis concerns women's testimonies of the South African War, specifically their accounts of the 'scorched earth' policy of forced removals and concentration camps instituted by the British military. It historicisises the mythologised version of this part of South Africa's past by delineating and analysing the processes by which these testimonies became central to an emergent 'post/memory' orchestrated by nationalist political and cultural entrepreneurs as part of the development of proto-nationalism. Chapter One overviews competing perspectives on the war and the camps, sketching out some aspects of the war and its aftermaths and exploring the context in which these perspectives were located. Chapter Two examines Hendrina Rabie-Van der Merwe's 1940 testimony Onthou! [Remember!] as an exemplar of post/memory processes, and provides a re-reading which considers the highly politicised context of this book's production and original reading. Chapter Three explores women's narratives written at different times but describing a single incident that occurred in Brandfort camp and involved a protest about rations, enabling the processes of post/memory to be traced over time by showing how a mythologised version of the event was produced. Chapter Four concerns Boer women's letters and diaries written at the time, and examines the relationship between temporal immediacy and claims of referentiality in these. Chapter Five broadens what constitutes 'a testimony' by investigating the variety of ways women attested to their experiences, something which enables examples of black and other marginalised women who left deliberate 'signs' of their lives to be 'seen' and recognised. Chapter Six deals with translation matters in Boer women's testimonies, exploring translation as a process of cultural and political mediation and considering my own role in this and analysing the layers of re/working and re/writing that constitute translation as central to post/memory processes. The Conclusion considers the idea of 'post/memory' in detail.