From the ‘Peaceful Past’ to the ‘Violent Present’: Memory, Myth and Identity in Guguletu

  • Sean Field


People do not face the present as an isolated and empty space, sandwiched between the past and future. Rather, ‘the present’ is ‘itself historical: a complex series of interlocking histories whose interactions have to be reconstructed, not assumed’.2 ‘All present awareness’ as Lowenthal puts it, is grounded in past perceptions and acts’,3 or as Tonkin states, ‘All understandings of the past affect the present. Literate or illiterate, we are our memories.’4 The telling of a life story is crafted from these memories of the past and is both present and presented in the present.


Oral History Social Memory African People African Township Male Interviewee 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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  • Sean Field

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