159pp., b/w & colour illus., paperback, Cape Town, 2019
Dr Siona O’Connell uses David Brown's photographs of the Harfield Village community pre- and during forced removals as a starting point to investigate questions around trauma, memory and freedom after apartheid. The book features Brown’s photographs alongside narrative chapters detailing the experiences of families forcibly removed from Harfield. Brown's 1972 images are counterbalanced by photographs of some of the Harfield residents taken today by Capetonian anti-apartheid photographer Zubeida Vallie.
"Timely and crucial. Shows the tragic effects of forced removals in our communities even today." Zoë Wicomb, author of You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town
"Captures the violence of our past and asks hard questions of our unsettling present. Impossible Return foregrounds human beings to give flesh to our anger, blood to our empathy and a heart to our activism." Mike van Graan, author of the plays When Swallows Cry and Brothers In Blood
Siona O'Connell was born in Walmer Estate, Cape Town. Her paternal grandparents were forcibly removed from District Six to Hanover Park on the Cape Flats. She is Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria, a Brown International Advanced Research Institute alum, a Trilateral Reconnections Project Fellow, a NEH Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University, USA, and a research associate at the Centre for Curating the Archive at the University of Cape Town.
Sculptor David Brown (1951-2016) took these photographs in Harfield Village in his final year at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town.