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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


NOBLE, Vanessa. Memory struggles: Remembering the apartheid era by University of Natal medical alumni, 1990s to the early 2000s. Historia [online]. 2015, vol.60, n.1, pp.1-21. ISSN 2309-8392.

The University of Natal's Medical School opened in the city of Durban in 1951 and was one of the first in the country to train black students from diverse backgrounds as doctors in apartheid South Africa. This article, however, steps back from trying to capture this school's social history, to reflect on the issue of memory, especially the constructed nature of memories produced by alumni who studied at this institution during the apartheid period. The first part of this article considers the common memory narratives produced in written and oral accounts in the 1990s. In this period, celebratory narratives that stressed students' "unity in adversity" and anti-apartheid "struggle" activities were publicly privileged and commonly remembered. However, as the second part shows, in more recent years, critical memories have surfaced in public to challenge these triumphant narratives. In the early 2000s, memories highlighting issues of controversy and division amongst students have burst into the public domain. Reasons for these memory shifts as well as the changing historical contexts influencing their production are considered in this article. There is also an analysis of how memory production adds another critical approach for the researcher exploring institutional histories.

Keywords : Durban Medical School; memory; University of Natal; production of history; apartheid; post-apartheid.

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