New Books Network

Rita Kesselring

Bodies of Truth

Law, Memory, and Emancipation in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Stanford University Press 2017

New Books in African StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network October 17, 2019 Susan Thomson

Rita Kesselring’s important book Bodies of Truth: Law, Memory, and Emancipation in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Stanford University Press, 2017) seeks to understand the embodied...

Rita Kesselring’s important book Bodies of Truth: Law, Memory, and Emancipation in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Stanford University Press, 2017) seeks to understand the embodied and everyday effects of state-sponsored violence as well the limits of the law to produce social repair. Of particular interest in Kesselring’s theorizing of the relationship between the body and the law as a mechanism to critique South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Dr. Kesselring’s book is an innovative study of the TRC, with a focus on embodiment and the ways in which formal justice institutions do not consider the everyday violence of injustice. Her study illuminates this tension, of people craving justice from institutions that are not designed to deliver it, leading the women of the civil society organization Khulumani to file suit in the United States under alien tort laws.

Kesselring recommends three books to listeners keen to dive deeper into issues of reparation, law and justice after Apartheid in South Africa.  They are Charles Abrahams’ Class Action: In Pursuit of a Larger Life (Penguin South Africa, 2019); Fiona Ross’ Bearing Witness: Women and the Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa (Pluto Press, 2002); and Georg Kries’ Switzerland and South Africa 1948-1994 (Peter Lang Publishers, 2007).