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CAS Public Talk and Book Launch: “Reading the Bloods: Intergenerational Memory in the time of the #Fallists” - Carli Coetzee, Editor, Journal of African Cultural Studies

When May 07, 2019
from 03:00 PM to 04:30 PM
Where S1, Alison Richard Building
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Skin has long been the master signifier in South African thought, interpreting our existence well beyond the reach of apartheid’s legislated ending. South African discourses remain dominated by skin as explanatory category, and as principle through which to order and organise the world. Skin’s very surface insists on certainty, as if the meanings and possibilities of the body are inscribed on and can be read from the skin itself. Skin and skin colour in South Africa are a historical burden, but also a spectacle, promising that meaning and value are immediately readable. Skin’s surface thus acts as a screen, and seals in and preserves racialised thinking about the classification and separation of bodies. This presentation argues that blood is a more useful analytical category than is skin with its short memory and the way it seals off, and in. The privileging of blood over skin is not an attempt to escape or evade skin (by saying skin is dead), but instead the argument probes the meanings of the inter-generational secrets and memories just under the surface of the skin, and circulating in the body. The time of skin and the time of blood are of different orders: if skin can be read (and misread) on the surface, blood is always richly encrypted. 
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