Lerato Machetela

Intergenerational trauma in Jagersfontein

Through this study, I aim to explore questions about how we can understand the concept of transgenerational trauma in a context like South Africa, where the third generation is exposed to extreme conditions which are tantamount to the traumatic experience of the second and third generation. In addition, to add to the international discussion on the role performance can play in creating non-verbal and embodied transformative encounters with traumatized communities through the use of photovoice. In this study, photovoice will be used to promote dialogue and thus counteract the “conspiracy of silence” related to the everyday and continuous traumatic realities within the community of Jagersfontein. Moreover, to inspire change through public journalism, whereby the lived trauma and generational trauma will be shared through an exhibition within the community. Photovoice resonates with psychotherapy as a formal institutional discourse of healing and recovery because psychology has played a role in demonstrating how performance may be used to explore and represent ones past life and the potential for future action. However, photovoice also constitutes a specific realm of language and reason beyond the confined notions of narrative descriptions central to the traditional psychotherapy notion of healing and recovery. That is, the body learns and explores the world through five distinct senses; seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. Traditional psychotherapy methods are limited to the confines of language descriptors. The anticipated results of this study will show that photovoice can work with these senses in addition to conveying emotional and spiritual experiences to bring about healing and recovery in traumatized and violated communities.

Lerato Machetela is a registered/licensed Clinical Psychologist. She is currently pursuing her PhD in psychology through the Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation studies at the University of the Free State. Her research titled “Intergenerational trauma in Jagersfontein”, stems from her work as a Clinical Psychologist in Jagersfontein, where she established a Gumboots dance group as a psycho-edu-tainment program for the male youth in the community. The positive impact of using Gumboots dance as an arts-based method with the youth inspired her to further explore the use of other arts-based method in research. Thus, in her study, Lerato uses photovoice – an arts-based method – as a research methodology. Through her research, Lerato seeks to highlight the usefulness of broadening the conceptualization of trauma to include how trauma is not only “post” but often manifests as a continuous and daily lived reality for those living under conditions of humiliation and depravity.