oa Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa - Some-where over the rainbow: theorizing the endless deferral of identity in South Africa

Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-0069



Although Jacques Derrida is not usually thought of in terms of the problematics of nations and nationalism, the term ""endless deferral"" cannot help but evoke his philosophical project, and it is to his picture of logocentrism that I initially turn in elaborating ,South Africa's ""preeminent"" status as a nation whose identity always seems to reside in some ""elsewhere"" space. Apartheid may well be considered as the last egocentric colonial structure (unless, that is, one wishes to included Bosnia under this unpleasant rubric) to finally collapse. Further its collapse may be considered the end of a state apparatus formed as an institutionalization of logocentric thinking (something unusual for Derrida who very rarely talks in terms of practices). Let me then begin this paper by turning to the idea of logocentrism and slowly proceed through it to the theme of national identity and its deployment by various theorists. The purpose of this paper is not to turn to a specific example of a form of national identity and offer an analysis, but rather to outline or sketch some of the current theoretical debates on the subject in broad brushstrokes so that one might begin to notice the similarities and differences, the links and discontinuities, the global and the particular characteristics of both South Africa and those other places and times that have witnessed the births of new nations from their previous (colonial) incarnations.

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