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Re-reading as a methodology: the case of Boer Women's testimonies

Helen Dampier
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  • Literature


Re-reading as a methodology is often invoked in literary and historical work, but seldom specifically delineated. The substantive focus herein concerns Boer women's testimonies of the 1899—1902 South African War, in particular testimonies of the British military scorched earth policy of forced removals and concentration camps. The methodology of re-reading such texts against each other is explored so as to `re-read the record' of the Mafeking concentration camp, using a set of unpublished testimonies. Re-reading reveals tensions and disjunctures in these testimonies, and highlights the pervasiveness of established, rehearsed narrative structures which characterize in effect all women's testimonies of the concentration camps of the South African War. The processes of re-reading are examined as a methodology which interrogates a particular text's context of production, and, crucially, the context of reading and the ways in which this shapes readerly responses to the text.

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