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"The Balsak In The Roof ": Bush War Experiences And Mediations As Related By White South African Conscripts

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Chapter Summary

This chapter falls within the discipline of medical anthropology, with a specific focus on issues concerning trauma in relation to a particular group of veterans. During the Bush War the balsak formed part of a particular memory field that involved the mainstream national projects of memory making. The chapter starts by 'unpacking' the balsak as a historical, cultural product of war. It then tries to show that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) can be constituted as an effort to at least bring some of the issues related to the war, particularly conscription, into the public sphere or 'down from the ceiling'. The chapter then teases out the meaning of the balsak as a 'container' - for artefacts, memories and experiences - good and bad - and, finally, analyses the deeply personal narratives and experiences of conscripted veterans, and their 'steps' to 'open it up' two to three decades later.

Keywords: balsak; Bush War; conscripted South African combat veterans; Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)



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