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n English in Africa - Portraits in miniature : white English-speaking South African women in selected short stories by Nadine Gordimer

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Abstract

The supplement on race (24 Sept-1 Oct 2009) demonstrates South Africa's need for an ongoing debate on racial polarisation, as the country tries to negotiate a future in which race is no longer the dominant defining category in identity politics. A worrying trend evident in the supplement, though, is the reticence among white commentators to acknowledge the legacy of whiteness, as exemplified, for example, by Alex Dodd's confession that she is heartily sick of the topic and of the tired old positions adopted by all South Africans when it comes up in conversation (2009, 26). By contrast, Njabulo Ndebele's contribution gets close to the truth of the trauma of race in contemporary South Africa, and confirms the necessity of ongoing discussion on issues of black and white. He argues that white South Africans, largely in denial, often seem to be living a life of pretence, as they amble "from one ethical challenge to the next, doing [their] best" but nonetheless "locked in a space of anguish." Black South Africans, he continues, are no less locked in a space of anguish, but it is one in which their hopes are "constantly undermined by the persistence of a landscape of inequality and by recidivist acts of racism" (2009, 20).

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/content/iseaeng/37/1/EJC47995
2010-05-01
2016-12-08
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