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    Forgetting responsibility : Hannah Arendt and the work of (undoing) psychic resistance post-apartheid
    (AfricaRhetoric Publishing, 2012-01-01) Alloggio, Sergio; Thomas, Kylie
    This paper engages with some of the writings of Hannah Arendt in order to draw a political parallel between the complex nexus of responsibility, judgement and sociality in post-war Germany and post-apartheid South Africa. In her writings on post-war Germany Arendt described the failure on the part of the German public to recognise and respond to what she terms "the horror" of Nazism. In her report on the aftermath of war, written on her return to Germany from the United States in 1949, Arendt recounts how she found "an inability to feel", "absence of mourning for the dead" and a "general lack of emotion" in those she encountered in Germany at that time. In this paper we connect her insights on post-war Germany to her later work on the difficulties of judging; this allows us to cast light on the problem of the evasion of responsibility in contemporary South Africa.
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    Bitter emotion: Affective archives and transnational solidarity against apartheid
    (Routledge - Taylor & Francis Group, 2020-09-06) Thomas, Kylie; Horizon 2020
    In his book about his Irish-South African family and his childhood under apartheid, White Boy Running, Christopher Hope writes of the "bitter emotion" that infuses the politics of both Ireland and South Africa. This essay considers how the histories of political struggle in both places are intertwined through readings of photographs taken in Ireland and South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. I draw on these photographs to develop an argument about how affective archives of music, images, and poetry travel across time and space and serve as a conduit for raising awareness about injustice and for forging transnational solidarity. At the same time, these photographs provoke a consideration about how Irish identification with the struggle of black South Africans is complicated by the longer history of British colonialism and racism and how solidarity requires both remembering and forgetting. This essay also begins to trace the presence and work of South African activists in Ireland who campaigned against apartheid while they were in exile.
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    Digital visual activism: Photography and the re-opening of the unresolved Truth and Reconciliation Commission cases in post-apartheid South Africa
    (Routledge - Taylor & Francis Group, 2021-08-06) Thomas, Kylie; Horizon 2020
    This article explores the creation and curation of digital photographic heritage relating to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa as a political project and examines the importance of the online circulation of historical photographs from private collections for public engagement with the re-opening of unresolved judicial cases concerning activists who were detained, tortured and murdered during apartheid. Focusing on the advocacy and commemoration practices relating to the re-opening of the inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, who was killed by the South African Security Police in October 1971, the article demonstrates that the curation of photographs included on the website relating to his life and murder can be understood as digital photographic heritage in formation. The article considers how the photographs constitute a form of virtual posthumous personhood and argues that Timolâ s digital afterlife moves beyond commemoration and contributes to the ongoing struggle for justice in South Africa in the aftermath of apartheid.
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    Unravelling anti-feminism: On the domestication of resistance
    (Lectito B.V., 2022-12-30) Thomas, Kylie; Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen
    This article provides a critique of neoliberal feminism and argues for nuanced and critical approaches to the question of what constitutes feminist resistance. It focuses on visual artist Billie Zangewa's creative practice and positions it within the longer history of how women have made use of traditional crafts, such as quilting and embroidery, as a means of expression and as a form of resistance. It positions Zangewa's work alongside that of some of her feminist contemporaries who have also used thread and cloth in their work to reveal how the political is woven through the fabric of everyday life. I argue that in order to understand why Zangewa's seemingly mundane, even bourgeois practice, has been framed and taken up as a form of feminist resistance, it is necessary to read her work through a historical lens that takes colonial dispossession and the brutal history of violence in Southern Africa into account. My readings of Zangewa's work acknowledge the significance of the artist's affirmation of care and self-love as resistance, as much as they point to the limits of a politics that valorises (unpaid) domestic work and fails to address the structural violence of capitalism.
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    Undoing gendered expressions of grief: Dora Kallmus' post-war 'slaughterhouse' photographs (1949-1958)
    (V&R unipress, 2022) Thomas, Kylie; Horizon 2020
    In 1907, the Jewish Austrian photographer Dora Kallmus, also known as Madame d'Ora, established what was to become one of the most important photography studios in Vienna. In the 1920s, Kallmus opened a studio in Paris, where she excelled as an innovative fashion photographer, creating portraits of the leading cultural figures of her time. This article centres on the dramatic shift in the images Kallmus created in the aftermath of the Second World War, when she photographed people in refugee camps in Austria and dying and dead animals in the abattoirs of Paris where she spent the final decade of her life. In order to understand these photographs and their powerful affective charge, it is necessary to consider them not only in relation to her pre-war works, but to read them in the context of the Holocaust, an event that effectively destroyed both her life and her social world. I read these images as an expression of Kallmus' views on society and the practice and meaning of photography in the aftermath of the death camps, and compare them to Hannah Arendt's post-war thought. Kallmus' 'slaughterhouse' series not only reveals the photographer's own psychic pain but also insists on a confrontation with the painful truth of the Shoah. Society's desire to avoid this painful reckoning, I argue, provides a reason for why this series has been largely ignored for the last six decades.