Managing Vulnerability
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In Managing Vulnerability, Richard C. Marback analyzes the tension surrounding the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa through a rhetorical lens. Marback studies the heart of South Africa's desire for reconciliation and contends that this goal could be achieved only through the creation of a language of vulnerability in which former enemies become open to the influence of each other, to the constraints of their respective circumstances, and to the prospects of a shared future. Through a series of informative case studies, Marback illustrates how the cultivation of openness and the management of vulnerability take shape through the circulation of artifacts, symbols, and texts that give empowering expression to virtues of connectedness over the temptations of individual autonomy.

Marback discusses the construction and impact of the narrative tours of Robben Island, the silencing of Robert Sobukwe, the debates over a proposed Freedom Monument, a brief gesture of ubuntu from Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela to Eugene de Kock, and the transformation of the title character in the film adaptation of the 1980 novel Tsotsi. Ultimately, Marback contends, finding a means to manage vulnerability is both the immediate success of and the ongoing challenge to South African democracy and is indicative of the nature of rhetoric in democracies in general and in contemporary civic life.



Publié par
Date de parution 30 septembre 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781611171891
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,2100€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Studies in Rhetoric/Communication Thomas W. Benson, Series Editor
South Africa s Struggle for a Democratic Rhetoric
Richard C. Marback
2012 University of South Carolina
Published by the University of South Carolina Press
Columbia, South Carolina 29208
21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:
Marback, Richard.
Managing vulnerability : South Africa s struggle for a democratic rhetoric / Richard C. Marback.
p. cm.-(Studies in rhetoric/communication) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-61117-099-3 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Rhetoric-Political aspects-South Africa. 2. Expression-Political aspects-South Africa. 3. Democratization-South Africa. 4. Reconciliation. 5. Post-apartheid era-South Africa. 6. Sobukwe, Robert Mangaliso-Political and social views. 7. Mandela, Nelson, 1918-Political and social views. I. Title. II. Series: Studies in rhetoric/communication.
JA85.2.S63M37 2012
ISBN 978-1-61117-189-1 (ebook)
Series Editor s Preface
Chapter 1
The Promise of Participation
Chapter 2
Rhetoric as Vulnerability
Chapter 3
The Dangerous Rhetoric of Robert Sobukwe
Chapter 4
On the Fragile Memories of Robben Island
Chapter 5
Nelson Mandela s Compromised Gesture
Chapter 6
Desmond Tutu s Even-Handedness
Chapter 7
Tsotsi, District 9 , and the Visualization of Vulnerable Rhetorics
Chapter 8
The Prospects of Rhetoric as Vulnerability
Works Cited
In Managing Vulnerability: South Africa s Struggle for a Democratic Rhetoric , Richard C. Marback argues that in the struggle for South African freedom, democracy, and reconciliation, the reciprocal questions of vulnerability and sovereignty of the people and groups engaged in the long struggle shapes the rhetoric and response of all participants. Marback acknowledges the affirmative force of claims by scholars such as Eric Doxtader and Philippe-Joseph Salazar that the mostly peaceful South African transition from apartheid to democracy-entailing rhetorical occasions of inclusive deliberation and reconciliation-demonstrates the efficacy of rhetoric and the potential of South African democracy. At the same time, Marback acknowledges the competing claim that Western rhetoric may be an alien importation to the South African scene, as well as the objection that while the democratic transition may have witnessed widespread participation and inclusion, material injustices remain.
In a series of case studies, Marback explores how the natural human impulse to guard ourselves from material or emotional vulnerability, aspiring to a personal, and perhaps rhetorical, sovereignty, makes it harder for us and others to appeal and attend to each other honestly, since one person s sovereignty may seem another person s vulnerability. The South African freedom struggle found ways to transcend the raw divisions created by the Afrikaner ambitions for invulnerability. In doing so the freedom movement moved beyond simply challenging the language of Afrikaner invulnerable sovereignty through a struggle to give expression to . . . sovereign vulnerability-a capacity for rhetorical agency grounded in openness to the anger and antagonism, frailty and suffering, hope and joy of others. The model for such shared, sovereign vulnerability that Marback finds especially in Robert Sobukwe, Nelson Mandela, and Desmond Tutu is not, Marback argues, guaranteed, though he sees prospects for hope of a rhetoric of common good in the face of ongoing challenges of HIV/AIDS, poverty, violence, and other legacies of the apartheid regime. Professor Marback offers the hope that the critical vocabulary of vulnerability and sovereignty that he finds in South African rhetoric may offer tools for meeting the challenges of the South African experience.
Chapter 1

The transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa affirms for many the wealth of resources available in rhetoric that make it possible for people to overcome temptations to solve their problems through violence. The negotiated settlement leading to democratic elections and the public performance of reconciliation promoting the spread of democracy have been seen as renewing in us what Erik Doxtader has described as our faith in the possibilities of words shared with each other. Among scholars who celebrate the transition from apartheid Philippe-Joseph Salazar has been one of the most prominent advocates for appealing to rhetoric to make sense of-and further promote-the emergence of South African democracy. He argues emphatically for embracing the necessity of institutional negotiation and public deliberation as the sovereign duty of democratic citizens, the duty to contribute to a contest of words about competing truths ( Truth in Politics, 14). Salazar s appeal to rhetoric as a citizen s sovereign duty invokes the responsibility to, as well as the potential for authority in, acts of public deliberation that give meaning and purpose to lives lived together. The appeal is familiar enough. People who act as citizens, who can and do submit their expressions to a public forum of competing truths, take part in discussions meant to make a more meaningful life available to all. Invoking Hannah Arendt, Salazar explains the nature of the democratic contest of words as a forum in which citizens express views they hold to be true while listening in earnest to the views expressed by others, all the while expecting from their fellow citizens the same forthrightness and regard. This act of publicly expressing individual views forms a democracy through aggregation, the transient, fragmented, often-community-based truth of prejudice, opinion, belief, perception (13). Far from cynically portraying public truth as nothing more than the fickle assertions of custom and preference, Salazar s characterization of South African public rhetoric celebrates and encourages the open-endedness of the project of people living together as citizens who are figuring out for themselves the course of their shared lives instead of having that course charted for them.
Salazar points to the public testimonies given before the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as evidence of the virtue and necessity of citizen rhetoric in the narration of South African nationhood, the telling of stories that makes available to everyone a source of meaning that no one person can have in isolation ( Truth in Politics, 16). He makes his point about the need for inclusiveness most clearly near the end of An African Athens when he writes, South African society is nurturing a political model for integrating differences within social deliberation. This has a name in the tradition of democratic thought: It is called the common good (165). There can be no doubt Salazar is right about participation marking the transition from apartheid to democracy. The four days from April 26 to 29 in 1994 when South Africans stood in line for hours to vote in their first democratic election provided a poignant image of the strength in the people of a desire to participate. And the tale told by Antjie Krog in Country of My Skull of those ordinary people who appealed for amnesty to the TRC because they felt they had not done enough to end apartheid speaks less to a sense of guilt and more to a feeling of wanting to do more to contribute to nurturing a common good. As Krog so aptly put it, the TRC gave birth to South Africa s language itself (42), a language of the common good that encourages everyone s participation.
People who have faith in the power of words-people like Doxtader, Salazar, and Krog-would seem to have every reason to be enthusiastic about the prospects of South Africans using language to shape democratic South Africa. But not everyone has that faith and shares that enthusiasm. James L. Gibson, for one, remarks, based on my casual observations of the South African media, complaints and condemnations of the truth and reconciliation process seem to far outnumber laudatory assessments ( Overcoming Apartheid , 2). John Dugard cautions that the project of reconciliation minimizes the memory of apartheid (284). Graeme Simpson further warns that there is a real possibility that the TRC, by granting amnesty to confessed killers, may actually have contributed to the sense of impunity that feeds the burgeoning rate of violent crime (247). Additional criticisms are not hard to find, and they do not vary much in their negative assessments of the TRC. What these criticisms share is the concern, expressed by Gibson, Dugard, and Graeme, that the language of forgiveness and reconciliation by itself does little to provide any justice. What Gibson, Dugard, Graeme, and countless others argue is that the public discourse of the TRC failed because it was primarily a display of words, nothing more than empty rhetoric, a public performance of reconciliation that did little more than distract people s attention from the government s failure to redress basic social inequalities.
Critics of the TRC have legitimate concerns. Apartheid-era disenfranchisement continues to leave black South Africans disproportionately vulnerable to disease, homelessness, hunger, joblessness, poverty, and violence. Without denying systemic inequality and injustice, I believe it would be the height of cynicism to say enthusiastic responses to the TRC-as well as to the democratic transition in South Africa-give expression to nothing more than a kind of na vet . More is at stake in disagreemen

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