Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of California / Berkeley

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / Berkeley
A Memory from the Future: Emerging Temporalities of Care in South Africa

This project examines emerging temporalities of care for trauma for those who live in South Africa's many peri-urban townships. Traditional trauma models assume that the traumatic event ends, can be narrated in therapy, and a catharsis achieved through that narration. As many scholars have noted, this does not account for enduring violence and conflict—when what is deemed traumatic is an ongoing experience. South African psychologists have attempted to answer to this critique by proposing a new temporality of care for trauma: one oriented toward the future. Because township residents experience violence as an everyday part of life, care for those who experience difficulties must reflect that reality. Care, it is argued, should not be focused on narrating past events, but oriented toward the affective state of knowing that violence is always in one's future. Based in Khayelitsha, one of South Africa's largest townships with one of the highest rates of violent crime in the country, my project examines how this future-oriented form of care articulates with the more ordinary forms of care youth encounter amid ongoing violence. By examining the nexus of emerging temporalities of care and the lived experience in urban spaces with ongoing violence, this project foregrounds the temporal basis of human experience in an attempt to articulate new ways of thinking about loss in the contemporary. Through an ethnographic engagement with this emerging form of care, the youth who receive it, and the ordinary care they find outside of the organization, novel ways of thinking about the temporalities of violence and care in and beyond South Africa open up.