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We who Belong to this Landscape: Antjie Krog and the Politics of Space

A Pieterse


Because the intersection of space and ideology is so prominent in South Africa, the
appropriation of physical space becomes a crucial aspect of ideological struggle. Nowhere
is this more apparent than in the way landscapes are aestheticised. In a situation where
an alienation from the landscape has occurred, a re-identification is needed. When spaces
are reoccupied, translated, and invested with new significance, it is never simply a literal
appropriation of space. Instead, the effort of such a reappropriation of physical space
impacts in complex ways on the way identity is negotiated and valued. This paper argues
that Antjie Krog's recent English prose works, Country of My Skull and A Change of
Tongue, participate in and comment on this reappraisal and refraction of South African
subjectivities precisely through their attentiveness to the contested nature of material
space. Moreover, the way these memoirs engage space relates directly to the kinds of
anxieties generated around the factuality/fictionality of Krog's texts that have dominated
criticism of her work, especially in the last year or so.

Current Writing Vol. 19 (2) 2007: pp. 163-186

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eISSN: 2159-9130
print ISSN: 1013-929X