BODIES OF TRUTH, law, memory, and emancipation in post-apartheid South Africa

: Kesselring (R.)

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256pp., illus., paperback, Stanford, 2017


An account of how apartheid victims deal with the long-term effects of violence, based on research with members of the victim support group Khulumani and critical analysis of legal proceedings related to apartheid-era injury.

"'Bodies of Truth' is essential reading for all those interested in the twenty-year aftermath of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Kesselring's innovative ethnography with victims seeking redress in the South African and U.S. Courts examines the limits of law and also makes a powerful case for the transformative potential of new forms of shared sociality. The imaginative combination of the anthropology of law and the body to understand the after-effects of violence in people's lives makes this a ground-breaking work." Richard Ashby Wilson, author of "The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa"

"Deeply serious and imaginative, 'Bodies of Truth' connects anthropology of law and anthropology of the body. Rita Kesselring reveals that even when much is achieved legally in the struggle for transitional justice, bodily experiences of victimhood continue to haunt the victims, and endemic, systematic violence continues to shape the political sphere long after it has ended. Kesselring presents readers with ways in which liberation from habitual victimhood might be achieved." Paul Connerton, University of Cambridge

Rita Kesselring is Senior Lecturer at the Institute for Social Anthropology at the University of Basel, Switzerland.