Body as a Site of Justice and Expiation in J. M. Coetzee's Fiction

Pavithra Tantrigoda, Carnegie Mellon University, United States of America


This paper examines the centrality of an ontological discourse to attempts at reparation by white characters in J.M.Coetzee’s fiction: Waiting for the Barbarians (1980), Age of Iron (1990), and Disgrace (1999). These novels address the issues of justice and expiation in relation to a set of racialized, gendered, and sexualized encounters between the colonizer and the colonized, whites and non-whites, or self and other. As means of making amends for the political violence that seems to be inherent in these (uneven) encounters, Coetzee’s novels deploy a discourse of justice that hints at the potentialities of reparation (to a large extent, at a personal level) located in the body, but, at the same time, complicates such a possibility.


JM Coetzee, Apartheid, Reconciliation, Body, Language, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa

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