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States of EmergencyColonialism, Literature and Law$
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Stephen Morton

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318498

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846318498.001.0001

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States of Emergency, the Apartheid Legal Order and the Tradition of the Oppressed in South African Fiction

States of Emergency, the Apartheid Legal Order and the Tradition of the Oppressed in South African Fiction

Chapter:
(p.89) Chapter 3 States of Emergency, the Apartheid Legal Order and the Tradition of the Oppressed in South African Fiction
Source:
States of Emergency
Author(s):

Stephen Morton

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781846318498.003.0004

Chapter three considers how the writing of Richard Rive, Alex la Guma, J.M. Coetzee, and Zoë Wicomb highlighted the role of emergency legislation in the formation of South Africa’s apartheid state, and the enforcement of the ruling apartheid ideology. Starting with a consideration of South Africa’s emergency legislation, and the socio-historical context in which it emerged, the chapter examines how literary texts contested the apartheid government’s emergency legislation by exposing the sovereign power and force, which underpins the apartheid state – in particular through practices such as indefinite detention and torture. The chapter then considers how, by publicly articulating the conditions of writing in a state of emergency, writers such as Rive, la Guma, and Coetzee question the political autonomy of art and writing, and foreground the importance of writing as a public discourse through which to express the experience of violence sanctioned by the apartheid state.

Keywords:   apartheid, South Africa, emergency legislation, torture, Alex la Guma, Richard Rive, J. M. Coetzee

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