Welcome to My Website.

My country has been a great inspiration for my work. The years of my childhood, and later my mature years of doing research on violence as a psychologist during apartheid exposed me to both the ugliest and gentlest moments in the social and political landscape of our country. The transition from apartheid to democracy was another period of both tragedy and excitement. This state of ambiguity has defined our country and expressed itself again through the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission—a process that became a site for the promise of a future in which we are now witnessing elements of the past. I am interested in probing this intergenerational dynamic in South Africa’s history, through language in all its representational forms, including the arts.

Professor and Research Chair, Stellenbosch University


History, Trauma and Shame : Engaging the Past through Second Generation Dialogue

History, Trauma and Shame provides an in-depth examination of the sustained dialogue about the past between children of Holocaust survivors and descendants of families whose parents were either directly or indirectly involved in Nazi crimes.

Adam Levin has written a review of the book here.

More about this book here

Research Spotlight.

Digital Exhibition: Through the Eyes of Survivors of Apartheid

I would like to share with you a digital exhibition that is based on excerpts from the stories in the book These Are the Things that Sit with us. The digital exhibition is presented in photographs of the storytellers, text from excerpts of their stories, voices of drama students reading the stories, and images and artefacts associated with the storytellers’ experiences during apartheid. Third year students from the Visual Arts department at Stellenbosch University were invited to choose a story from the book and to present their responses in visually creative ways. The result has been extraordinary drawings and animations produced by the students. A few of the students’ artwork have been posted online and can be accessed here. With this project, our goal is to share insights with scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds, and to expand the domain of inquiry on trauma and to place apartheid trauma in the centre of these debates.

View Exhibition


View all Lectures

A Human being Died that Night

I talked for more than 46 hours over the course of three months with Eugene de Kock. People like de Kock were necessary for apartheid to survive. I wanted to understand his past, and the limits to which he was driven as a decorated police in his role as apartheid's crusader. De Kock was a window through which to probe the sophistication and subtlety with which apartheid drew its followers to support its violent mission, and to understand the society of white voters who encouraged his actions.
View Related Entries
I wrote the book during an extended fellowship and affiliation with various Harvard's institutes between 2000 and 2002. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's work opened up a global scholarly and public debate on reconciliation and forgiveness in post-conflict societies, and the book became part of these broader debates. What surprised me the most is how the book would resonate with Germans and put the intergenerational impact of the Nazi past in dialogue with South Africa's TRC process. The book I edited History, Trauma and Shame: Engaging the Past through Second Generation Dialogue flows directly from this transnational engagement.