International Conference

Dealing with the past, reaching the future

Historical memory in changing societies in South Africa and Germany after 1989

Fri, Oct 30, 2009
10 am
Dealing with the past, reaching the future

Day 1 I Day 2 | Day 3

10 - 10.30 am
Post-Apartheid and German reunification - Looking at ways to deal with a history of separation
Neville Alexander, University of Cape Town
Martin Sabrow, Centre for Research on Contemporary History, Potsdam

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was perceived worldwide as a unique instrument and also acted as a model for other regions. In Germany, even 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, people are still recovering and discussing the memories contained in the file archives of the former secret police force (Stasi) of the GDR, and these continue to throw new light on what happened and on the people involved. What role does the process of coming to terms with a society's past play today?

Panel 1: 10.30 am - 1 pm
Historical memory needs a future – Key Findings of the research project by the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study

10.30 am
Summary: Bernard Lategan
Project Presentation: Mamadou Diawara, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main

10.50 am - noon + 12.15 pm - 1 pm I Discussion
Neville Alexander, Bernard Lategan, Mamadou Diawara and Jörn Rüsen (Essen Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities)
Chair: Bernard Lategan, Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study

Why do some societies become paralysed by historical memory, bound up in the chains of their past? How and why do other societies, in the process of remembering, manage to let go of negative associations with the past? With an eye to the future, how are new stories told that create a common sense of identity among the members of a society? The fellows at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, who looked at these questions in their research project, will be presenting their results for discussion.

Panel 2: 2 - 5 pm
How to tell - vision, fiction, manipulation? The role of mediacy in the scientific, literary and media worlds
Introduction: Antjie Krog, University of the Western Cape

2.25 pm - 4 h + 4.15 - 5 pm Discussion
Antije Krog, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela (University of Cape Town), Annekie Joubert (Humboldt University Berlin), Jana Simon (Journalist and Author), Elisio Macamo (University of Bayreuth)
Chair: Joachim Nettelbeck, Berlin Institute for Advanced Study

History is written by and written about different protagonists and individuals. The worlds of culture, the media and science create narratives and interpretations which play a decisive role in forming the potential spaces where remembering can take place. Which truth is (re)constructed? Who claims to have sovereignty of interpretation? What responsibility is borne by authors, journalists and scientists and how do they contribute to the process of social upheaval?

5.30 pm - 9.30 pm Film program

Kahlo Matabane: “Story Of A Beautiful Country”
Ten years after the end of Apartheid, the young black film director Kahlo Matabane explores South Africa. The back seat of his car becomes the interview space and the private stories told there give us an intimate look at the dramatic upheavals in that society.

Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffmann: “Long Night's Journey Into Day”
The film shows four cases handled by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission where people come face to face with the murderers responsible for the deaths of members of their families. Winner of the Sundance Film Festival 2000

Day 1 I Day 2 | Day 3