Plaasfeminism in Ronelda S. Kamfer’s Kompoun (2021)
Keywords:plaas, feminism, rural idyll, loss, Ronelda S. Kamfer, Afrikaans literature
This review article explores how Ronelda S. Kamfer’s novel Kompoun (2021) deconstructs and diversifies the white patriarchal space of the plaas (farm) by reinscribing it with a highly situated ‘plaasfeminism’ emerging from the female characters in the novel. This critical reinscription through the lives of the McKinney women from the Overberg is necessary, but certainly not triumphant. For Nadia, the protagonist, the idyll of the plaas consists of her admiration of and longing for her maternal forebears and thus provides a source of strength and personhood, but the plaas is also quite literally the scene of a crime from which her family fails to protect her. Kompoun complicates mainstream notions of feminist resistance by charting the internal contradictions of female subjectivity and highlighting the vulnerable position of the McKinney children, who grow up in a community where both adult men and women pose a threat of emotional and physical abandonment and abuse. Yet, in times of need, Nadia manages to mobilise her personal image of the plaas’ beauty as motherly and the women who live there as tough as coping strategies that suspend her imprisonment in the harmful dynamics around her.
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