Video: Cape Town launch of Of Motherhood and Melancholia by Lou-Marié Kruger

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The launch of Of Motherhood and Melancholia by Lou-Marié Kruger took place on Thursday 27 February 2020 at The Book Lounge in Cape Town. Pierre de Vos, Claude Leon Foundation Chair in Constitutional Governance at the University of Cape Town and author of the blog “Constitutionally speaking”, was in conversation with Lou-Marié. Watch the video here:


Title: Of Motherhood and Melancholia – Notebook of a Psycho-ethnographer
Author: Lou-Marié Kruger
Publisher: University of Kwazulu-Natal Press
ISBN: 9781869144340

This book is about the slow violence of poverty. Lou-Marié Kruger’s clinical and research encounters in the Dwarsrivier Valley attempt to give an account of the complex realities and lived experiences of low-income mothers in post-apartheid South Africa.

Focusing specifically on maternal life in a semirural community, the work can be regarded as a South African case study, showing how particular happenings, specific events, unique interactions and larger societal processes become intertwined to result in complex narratives. Such intricate narratives do not only show how the past always impacts on the present, but can also implicitly suggest how and why such stories are prone to be repeated. While the book can be seen as a study of a place and a community, the lives of individual people and how they are embedded in the larger matrix of culture, history and the political economy are also present. The pertinent question here is one asked by medical anthropologist Paul Farmer: by which mechanisms, precisely, do social forces – ranging from poverty to racism to gender – become embodied as individual experience?


Pierre de Vos was in conversation with Lou-Marié Kruger.

“I hope the women’s stories are in the forefront,” Lou-Marié Kruger admitted about Of Motherhood and Melancholia.

“You need to read the footnotes, because the footnotes have a different kind of poetry in them,” Pierre de Vos advised the audience. He led a humorous and heartfelt discussion about the book.

Azille Coetzee, author of In my vel.

Lou-Marié Kruger

Crime author Karin Brynard in the audience.

The Book Lounge was cosy, despite the windy Capetonian day.

  • Text, photos and video: Cliffordene Norton  

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Of Motherhood and Melancholia: a bilingual interview with Lou-Marié Kruger

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