Judith Coullie, Stephan Meyer, Thengani Ngwenya and Thomas Olver (eds.), Selves in Question. Interviews on South African Auto/Biography, (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006).
Wide-ranging and engaging, Selves in Question considers the various ways in which auto/biographical accounts situate and question the self in contemporary southern Africa. The twenty-seven interviews presented here consider both the ontological status and the representation of the self. They remind us that the self is constantly under construction in webs of interlocution and that its status and representation are always in question. The contributors, therefore, look at ways in which auto/biographical practices contribute to placing, understanding, and troubling the self and selves in postcolonies in the current global constellation. They examine topics such as the contexts conducive to production processes; the contents and forms of auto/biographical accounts; and finally, their impact on the producers and the audience. In doing so they map out a multitude of variables – including the specific historical juncture, geo-political locations, social positions, cultures, languages, generations, and genders – in their relations to auto/biographical practices. Those interviewed include the famous and the hardly known, women and men, writers and performers who communicate in a variety of languages: Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, and Yiddish. An extensive introduction offers a general framework on the contestation of self through auto/biography, a historical overview of auto/biographical representation in South Africa up to the present time, an outline of theoretical and thematic issues at stake in southern Africa auto/biography, and extensive primary and secondary biographies.
Judith Coullie is professor of English Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Stephan Meyer is a lecturer at the Language Centre of the University of Basel. Thengani Ngwenya is director of academic affairs at the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) midlands campuses. Thomas Olver is an editor and teacher in South Africa.