Historical Trauma and Transformation
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Videos: Public Lecture Series


ENGAGE|DISENGAGE Intergenerational Conversations about
Apartheid Trauma

Wednesday, 25  November 2020


Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation collaborated with Stellenbosch University’s Visual Arts Department by inviting third year students to ‘listen’ to the stories that are currently featured in the digital exhibition, Through the Eyes of Survivors of Apartheid: Life Despite Pain and Suffering. This conversation draws on ways in which the students engaged with the stories and the storytellers and the possibilities for human connection that emerge from these encounters. Dr. Marietjie Oelofsen is a post-doctoral fellow at the Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation unit and the curator of the digital exhibition, Through the Eyes of Survivors of Apartheid: Life Despite Pain and Suffering. She was in conversation with:
  • John Edwin Mason, professor in African history and the history of photography in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia, USA.
  • Dr Thembinkosi Goniwe, an artist, art historian and lecturer at Rhodes University, South Africa.
  • Dr Karolien Perold-Bull, a lecturer and coordinator of the Visual Communication Design division in the Visual Arts Department, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.


Gender and the Slow Violence of Poverty Intergenerational Legacies

Wednesday, 18  November 2020

Professors Lou-Marié Kruger and Malose Langa to reflect on this topic based on their books:
Of Motherhood Melancholia: Notebook of a Psychoethnographer by Lou-Marié Kruger and Becoming Men: Masculinities
in a South African Township by Malose Langa.


VISUAL POLITICS  Navigating Violent Histories

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Images of black social protest are forever fixed in the popular imagination through photography. From the medium’s beginning, race and gender have shaped and controlled the production and reception of photographic representations of people, both politically and aesthetically. This conversation will explore the mobilisation of photographs in the ongoing struggle for human rights, and with reference to the American Civil Rights and Anti-Apartheid movements. We will think about visual activism, visual politics and the power of images to record and advocate at the same time as register violence, erasure and repression. The historical role of photographers in producing an archive chronicling social issues, racialised death and trauma as well as resistance and refusal provides a resource with which we can think, navigate and describe the past.  How these relate to current struggles for recognition and redress are urgent issues that contemporary reworkings of the archive, and visual/oral testimony address.


Lenses, Senses and a Conversation

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Yvonne Owuor’s Dust is set against the backdrop of the 2007 Kenyan presidential elections, which ushered in weeks of violence that resulted in hundreds of deaths. The book deals with “big” questions and explores what it means to be human in the face of overwhelming cruelty and violence. In Dust, Owuor tells stories about society-in-trauma (and denial of trauma), the effects of generational moral wounds and the decaying of national values, ideals and dreams. The book was described in a New York Times review as “a physical expression of the landscape it evokes: raw, fragmented, dense, opaque. Beautiful, but brutally so…”, and in The
Guardian as a book that portrays “the entirety of human experience—tearshed, bloodshed, lust, love — in staggering proportions.”


White work and engaging the violence of racism – A panel discussion

Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation ventured into the virtual realm when we held our first public Webinar on Wednesday 22 April 2020. The event brought together Professor Melissa Steyn, Dominee Helgard Pretorius and Dr Wilhelm Verwoerd – a dynamic panel of scholar-practitioners, all working to engage with the violence of racism as white people in South Africa.

Melissa Steyn reflected on her theoretical concept of The Ignorance Contract in relation to whiteness. Helgard Pretorius followed with his experiential story of what it means to do “white work" in the context of the Dutch Reformed Church. As a facilitator of this process, Wilhelm offered reflections on what it means to take people through this kind of “single identity work" journey in South Africa and in other contexts.

During the question and answer session, the panel engaged on questions about what restitution means in relation to white work and issues of white nostalgia and white loss in relation to this work.

A final phrase from Melissa at the end of the Webinar sums up one of the central themes emerging from the panel discussion:

As we lose our whiteness, we gain our humanity


Theatrical Politics: Ubu and the Truth Commission Revisited, 4 March 2020

Prof Premesh Lalu, former director of the Centre for Humanities Research, and Principle Investigator of the DST-NRF Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities (UWC), revisits the theatrical co-production of Ubu and the Truth Commission by William Kentridge, Jane Taylor, and the Handspring Puppet Company.


Annual Africa Day Lecture, 30 May 2019: A Mother’s Reflection on Suicide Loss in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Judge Thina Siwendu reflected on suicide loss in post-Apartheid South Africa during Stellenbosch University's second annual Africa Day lecture, co-hosted by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Wim de Villiers, and Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation.


Zackie Achmat lecture, 11th October 2017 on: "State Power, State Capture and Building a New Politics of Justice and Equality"

In a captivating yet harrowing lecture titled “State Power, State Capture and Building a New Politics of Justice and Equality,” Achmat took us on a journey as secondary witnesses to the violence inflicted by state and provincial structures daily on the lives of millions of South Africans, to show us the deep chasm that exists between the promise of a “better life for all” and the ever-receding horizon of such a vision.


Dialogue, Writing, and Humanity in Troubled Times
A Conversation between Homi Bhabha and Njabulo Ndebele

The two renowned scholars, Professor Homi Bhabha, who is the world's premier post-colonial literary theorist and Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University, and Emeritus Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Chairman of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, poet, novelist and essayist who has received worldwide acclaim for his work, are known to integrate academic inquiry with public engagement, extending themselves well beyond scholarly concerns to challenge the status quo in troubled times. Their public conversation on “Dialogue, Writing, and Humanity in Troubled Times" was recorded in the following video clip below.