Tragic and heroic moments in the lives of forced migrants : memories of political asylum-seekers in post-apartheid South Africa

10 Jun 2017

This article examines the memories of a group of Cameroonian asylum-seekers in South Africa, analyzing personal accounts of memories of fear, suffering, and pain as well as resilience and heroism during their forced migration. The article argues that the legitimacy of applications for asylum often depends on accurate and consistent memories of specific life-threatening episodes at home and during migration. Drawing on theoretical conceptions such as construction of memory, autobiographical memory, and politics of storytelling, this article teases out how personal memories of asylum-seekers provide a discursive space to access and understand the asymmetries of seeking political asylum in post-apartheid South Africa.