Entitled Therapeutic Commodities: Apartheid, Trauma and Visual Culture in the New South Africa, Marie Kruger's current book project examines the representation and commodification of traumatic memory in South African visual culture. Her inquiry is focused on two specific expressions of visual culture: 1) feature and documentary films that recount the traumatic experience of individuals victimized by the apartheid state and their public appearance before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the 1990s; and 2) a series of thematically related, permanent multi-media exhibitions in central Johannesburg that document human rights abuses in the city’s most infamous prison complex (http://www.constitutionhill.org.za/). The exhibitions occupy several buildings on a site formerly known as “Number Four” where prominent political dissidents, from Fatima Meer to Winnie Mandela, together with thousands of other South Africans were imprisoned during apartheid. Once a place closely associated with state-sponsored violence, the exhibitions have physically transformed one of South Africa’s most notorious places of racial oppression into a site of public remembrance of traumatic violence.
Her previously published book, Women’s Literature in Kenya and Uganda: The Trouble with Modernity, draws attention to fictional works that constitute a vital, yet often overlooked part of the cultural and creative exchanges in Eastern Africa. She argues that the writers’ simultaneous interest in gender dynamics within local communities and in social exchanges between two neighboring East African nations allows for a unique examination of the relationship between modernity, gender and the complex cultural and political networks of the Great Lakes Region.
Her work has been published in US-American, German, and Kenyan literary journals, including Research in African Literatures, Postcolonial Text, Swahili Forum and The Nairobi Journal of Literature. In 2012, she co-edited a special issue of Research in African Literatures on “Memory/History, Violence and Reconciliation” (together with Mildred Mortimer and Maureen Eke). In her former professional life as ALLNET Director (Autonomous Language Learning Network) at the University of Iowa and as a Swahili Language Instructor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, she edited and co-authored several pedagogical publications for African language studies.
Teaching Areas / Courses: Prof. Kruger teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate classes designed to introduce students to African and African diasporic literature and film, as well as courses on postcolonial theory, cultural studies, feminist theory and gender studies:
008:098 The Power of Storytelling: Art, Trauma and Survival
008:031 Introduction to Postcolonial Studies
008:084 Gender and Sexuality in African Literature and Film
008:098 Honors Proseminar: Human Rights Narratives
008:157 Topics in African Cinema: Visualizing Human Rights
008:163 Literatures of Africa and the Caribbean
008:164 The Pleasure and Pain of Travel
008:084 Stories about HIV/AIDS
008:201 Introduction to Graduate Studies
008:223 Graduate Reading Course: Readings in Postcolonial Theory and Literature
008:226 Graduate Reading Course: Readings in African Literature
008:450 Graduate Seminar: Race, Gender and the Alternatively Modern