Freedom, Public Deliberation and the Archive
Hamilton, Carolyn; Mangcu, Xolela
This paper proceeds from three central propositions: the first is that ongoing public deliberation is a powerful vehicle for social change and economic progress, and is fundamental to the attainment, and maintenance, of freedom. The second is that public deliberation - around the key questions of our times and our location in South Africa - is inhibited by the limited and biased archive available to us to pursue our deliberations. The third proposition is that every engagement with the archive is always inflected with power. In every society, including our own, there are strong motivations and indeed efforts to exert control over archive, to read it in singular ways, and to exclude alternative and multiple readings. Identity politics of all kinds typically play out their contests in relation to archive. The paper offers first an analysis of the significance, and the current state, of the relationship between public deliberation and archive in South Africa, focusing on the topics of reconciliation, development and identity politics.
Manuscript delivered to the History Association of South Africa, June 2006
Nelson Mandela Foundation
South Africa; reconciliation; archives; identity politics