I am an advanced doctoral candidate, a Laurance S. Rockefeller Graduate Fellow at the University Center for Human Values, and the Richard Stillwell ’21 *24 and Agnes Newhall Stillwell Fellow in the Department of History. I study Africa from a transnational and global perspective. My dissertation is the micro history of a secret manuscript produced in Robben Island prison by Nelson Mandela, and its various iterations over the years until an ultimate reworking in his 1994 autobiography. Through tracing the micro history of versions of the manuscript within the greater global Cold War and post Cold War context, I show how visions for post-1990 democracy were developed, and the stakes for individuals, organizations, and different nation States, in crafting a particular narrative of and for South African history. I examine historical claims, contestation, and memory in the production of Nelson Mandela's autobiographies. I assess the ways that Mandela was ‘written’ into history and himself scripted the opening narrative of democratic South Africa and its twentieth century background.
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