The Black-White Man in Mudrooroo's The Kwinkan
In the course of her examination of James Weldon Johnson's 1912 novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man: "(Passing for) Black Passing for White",Samira Kawash addresses the inseparable nature of the development of white and black histories and identities in a unique time of social and geographic mobility. In her concern with the nexus of race and nation-building that is the postcolonial condition, Kawash suggests that all peoples touched by colonialism are simultaneously at odds with and engaged in a tragic social reality that links them across race-based social boundaries. The burden of the colonisers is they have never been able to cancel out, or forget entirely, the full extent of the harm they have inflicted on the colonised. The burden of the colonised is that they live and define themselves within the same moral frontiers of race constructed by those who have inflicted such harm. For Kawash this historically based phenomenon is recognisable as a shared human condition which need not necessarily be a point of conflict but rather a site of reconciliation. Moreover, she suggests that to acknowledge that the coloniser and the colonised are inextricably intertwined in the construction of the postcolonial self as either black or white constitutes a challenge to the culturally estranging narrative of the politics of representation and to what has become known as racial passing in particular.
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