- The Echo of Empathy in Nandipha Mntambo's "The Encounter"
Ross Truscott presents his paper, "The Echo of empathy in Nandipha Mntambo's The Encounter." The paper is an early draft chapter from a book project on the concept of empathy, thought through a postcolonial frame, in the context of post-1994 South Africa. Empathy is frequently deployed to mark a break with patterns of colonial violence, yet as a structure of feeling and imagining it has also ordered various forms of knowledge that rationalized colonial rule. Truscott's contention is that empathy cannot offer an exit to the script of colonialism unless the history out of which it was forged, and the attendant epistemological structure of the concept, is excavated and reworked. As one instance wherein such reworking has taken place, the images and installations of artist, Nandipha Mntambo, specifically in her collection, The Encounter offer, the paper argues, an Echo to the disavowed narcissism of empathy -- echoing the history of the concept, underscoring the violence of empathy, indeed empathy as predation, while abiding by it through a practice of reinscription.
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