On Reconciliation and its representations in select plays by reza wet, girish karnad and griselda gambaro

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This dissertation entitled, On Reconciliation and its Representations in Select Plays by Reza de Wet, Girish Karnad and Griselda Gambaro explores the representations of reconciliation in modern drama through a reading of select plays by playwrights Reza De Wet, Girish Karnad, and Griselda Gambaro. ‘On Reconciliation and its Representations’ can be broadly conceived as a contribution to literary scholarship on how reconciliation is imagined and represented in literary works notably in societies with a traumatic heritage. Constructing my main argument through thinking of reconciliation as any attempt to subvert hegemonies/hierarchies and imagine alternative realities in works of literature, the study questions the relevance of literary works in disseminating patterns of inclusion, compromise, acceptance of the other, embrace, and/or exclusion. Even though the study adds to previous research on reconciliation, it breaks from earlier approaches to it which fall under the category of a ‘literature on forgiveness’ for the domestic and intimate forms of reconciliation they unveil in works of literature. It argues instead for a kind of reconciliation as a ‘collective experience’ and one which molds itself in social contexts where trauma and violence as instigated by stigmas defined by religion, ethnicity, race, caste, and social class or power are predominant. Framed within a constellative account of critical approaches to text in context, and through viewing literature as a locus of imagining different realities and a space to deconstruct ‘imagined communities’, I investigate reconciliation and its representations by analyzing six plays which are written at the backdrop of violent and traumatic social realities namely Reza De Wet’s African Gothic and Good Heavens, Girish Karnad’sTaléDanda, and Bali: the Sacrifice, and Griselda Gambaro’s Del sol naciente and La malasangre. Religious and inter-caste violence in India, the apartheid trauma and the difficulty of transition into a democratic multicultural society in South Africa, the aftermath of a decade long dictatorial whirlpool in Argentina, and the repression or marginalization ushering from it are the kinds of traumatic experiences and social distortions the playwrights studied in this research are responding to. I argue that in each of these plays, there is an imagining of a different reality, a dismantling of hierarchies and hegemonies, a crossing of boundaries between different ‘others’ (social, racial, religious, and caste), empowerment of margins, and a ‘settlement of accounts’ between victim and perpetrator. After the introduction which situates the research within a growing tradition of interest in reconciliation and literary representation, chapter one entitled On Reconciliation Between Context and Literary Representation sets the research argument in negotiation with a number of critical insights to text in context, and to the role of literature as a source of empowerment and ‘symbolic resistance’. In each of the chapters which follow, there is a venture into understanding the imaginings or representations of reconciliation through an excavation in history and culture, and through providing an interpretation to the texts in ways that reveal how the three playwrights view literature as an abode to imagine alternative realities/worlds and interrogate culture itself.


318f. ; 30 cm. + CD Rom


Reconciliation, representation, Religion