Under new management: whiteness in post-apartheid South African life writing



Publication Details

Simoes da Silva, A. J. 2012, 'Under new management: whiteness in post-apartheid South African life writing', in M. Perkins (eds), Locating Life Stories: Beyond East-West Binaries in (auto)biographical Studies, Published for the Biographical Research Center by the University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu. pp. 83-95.

Additional Publication Information

The essays in this book have a shared focus on the specific local conditions that influence the ways in which life narratives are told, the authors engage with a variety of academic disciplines, including anthropology, history, media studies, and literataure, to challenge claims that life writing is an exclusively Western phenomenon. Addressing the common desire to reflect on lived experience, the authors enlist interdisciplinary perspectives to interrogate the range of cultural forms available fo representing and understanding lives.


Alfred J. Lopez begins his introduction to postcolonial Whiteness: A Critical Reader on Race and Empire by stating "Whiteness is not, yet we continue for many reasons to act as though it is" (1). He is especially interested in "what happens to whiteness after empire," and proposes that it be understood as a dynamic relation of power. Despite the critical scrutiny it has attracted from whiteness studies, the racial category retains much of its ideological force. "The concept of whiteness as a cultural hegemon," Lopez argues, is manifest in "its lingering, if somewhat latent, hegemonic influence over much of the world" (16, 5). This will on occasion give rise to radical power shifts, but just as often nothing will change. Commenting on the case of whites in contemporary South Africa, Lopez continues: "how do those cultural processes resemble - and how do they diverge from-those experienced by whites of the former oppressing class who remain behind in the post-apartheid state, to live and work alongside the newly empowered black majority?"

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