Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pohlandt-McCormick, “I Saw a Nightmare...”: Doing Violence to Memory, new on HEB

Helena Pohlandt-McCormick
New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. HEB 2010.

The Soweto uprising was both a tragic and heroic event in the history of South Africa. Tragic, because of the violence associated with it; heroic, because of the way it grew out of the oppression of the past and marked a decisive step towards a democratic future. This electronic book has two identities. On the one hand it provides a comprehensive, though by no means complete, account of the uprising. On the other, it is an attempt to come to terms with the interrelationship between violence and memory in South Africa.

This born-digital work is envisioned as two buildings, interconnected, perhaps even standing under the same roof. The buildings have many floors, large and small rooms, alcoves, basements and common rooms. They are interconnected by a series of passageways, staircases, larger and smaller doors. Thus, this book does not offer merely another alternative interpretation of the story of Soweto, no single narrative of the past or single interpretation, but rather the multiple stories that were told and the contested meanings that were attributed to the events of Soweto. It seeks to describe and establish relationships among these multiple narratives as well as the processes of societal and individual remembering and forgetting, looking at the many levels, layers, spaces, and times in which they took place.

The electronic medium, with its ability to create multiple linkages at many levels and to surpass the simple linearity of a book, attempts to replicate the many layers of meaning associated with the uprising. Some of them have changed through time, some complement each other, others conflict.

This e-book provides extensive supplementary materials, accessible via pop-up windows (including thousands of photographs, with the option of browsing for these by keyword or type); official documents; essays; and interviews. It takes advantage of extensive interactive cross-referencing within the text to promote non-linear navigation, including “red thread” sections showing a list of all related sections throughout the e-book. It also provides a wealth of related historical documents in the form of PDFs, and a glossary.

A Gutenberg-e title.
Please see the complete list of Gutenberg-e titles available and forthcoming in HEB.

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