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Kronos

On-line version ISSN 2309-9585
Print version ISSN 0259-0190

Abstract

VIG, Paul. Blood Lines: Cecil the Lion, Mandela, and art in history. Kronos [online]. 2016, vol.42, n.1, pp.174-194. ISSN 2309-9585.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2309-9585/2016/v42a11.

This article takes three events as a cue to examine the connections between race and development in the history of hunting. First, the killing of Cecil the lion in July 2015 by Walter Palmer. Second, Nelson Mandela's hunting trip in 1991 that was reported on under the title 'Mandela Goes Green'. Thirdly, the art installation and film Red that explores the building of a red Mercedes for Nelson Mandela in 1991. Serendipitously, these three events come together in a way that enables a look at how art, technology and history can be thought differently. The workshop 'Red Assembly' in East London and the careful thought given to a retelling of the building of Mandela's red Mercedes collides with the hyper-technological online protest and commentary in response to the killing of Cecil. Their near simultaneity, each referencing Mandela in a different way, draws attention to the continuing concerns over labour and race in a post-apartheid South Africa that continues to look to Mandela as a figure of positive change. The contentious debates around the wildcat strike at the East London Mercedes-Benz factory in 1991 as well as the killing of Cecil 25 years later illuminate how claims to development and progress are caught up in globally connected flows of capital and material goods that persist in the tendency to view the figure of the black body only as labour, despite protests that point to the need for more critical thought. At the same time, these contentious debates and a reading of the installation Red through the 'Red Assembly' workshop reflect the anxieties of writing history in a post-apartheid South Africa that struggles to reinsert the human into understandings of the past without falling prey to the temptation of producing history as an uncritical act of recovery or a celebration agency.

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