Drawing the Line: Toward an Aesthetics of Transitional Justice

Drawing the Line: Toward an Aesthetics of Transitional Justice

Drawing the Line: Toward an Aesthetics of Transitional Justice

Drawing the Line: Toward an Aesthetics of Transitional Justice

Synopsis

Drawing the Line examines the ways in which cultural, political, and legal lines are imagined, drawn, crossed, erased, and redrawn in post-apartheid South Africa through literary texts, artworks, and other forms of cultural production. Under the rubric of a philosophy of the limit and with reference to a range of signifying acts and events, this book asks what it takes to recalibrate a sociopolitical scene, shifting perceptions of what counts and what matters, of what can be seen and heard, of what can be valued or regarded as meaningful. The book thus argues for an aesthetics of transitional justice and makes an appeal for a postapartheid aesthetic inquiry, as opposed to simply a political or a legal one. Each chapter brings a South African artwork, text, speech, building, or social encounter into conversation with debates in critical theory and continental philosophy, asking: What challenge do these South African acts of signification and resignification pose to current literary-philosophical debates?

Excerpt

“Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere,” G. K. Chesterton wrote in 1928, insisting on the necessity—if also the contingency—of marking a limit in the act of making an ethical decision (Chesterton 1928, 780). Yet the act of drawing this line is an art as much as it is a question of morality a line drawn reconfigures space: It divides yet juxtaposes two entities; it connects two distant points. Figuratively, it includes some and excludes others; it marks a boundary between standing for and standing against, or it traces a path along which places are invested with significance, words are understood, and lives are lived. All of these lines could have been drawn somewhere else.

1. See Tim Ingold’s seminal work Lines: a Brief History, which aims to “lay the foundations for what might be called a comparative anthropology of the line” (Ingold 2007, 1). the last phrase of my sentence echoes Ingold: “Life is lived … along paths, not just in places, and paths are lines of a sort” (Ingold 2007, 2).

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