Strange Fruit

The South African Truth Commission and the Demonic Economies of Violence

in Social Analysis
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At no other time more than in the present day has individual, social and institutional memory come under such concerted pressure, critique and exposure as a fragile foundation for truth and facticity. This current reluctance to authenticate social memory is intimately tied to well-known postmodernist depredations, which profoundly disenchanted the authority of tradition and authenticity, and emptied core institutionalised myths of their temporal and semantic continuity. As institutionalised memory fails to provide overarching master narratives that can win cultural consent, it has also become increasingly disjunctive with previously unnarratable history and experience. Consider the synchronic fictions of recent ethno-histories, the historians’ debate in Germany on the facticity of the Holocaust, or even the critique of post-traumatic stress disorder and other recuperations of traumatic memory whose fictive psycho-medical legitimacy has been challenged by Alan Young and Ian Hacking.