n English in Africa - White curtains, dark thoughts

Volume 37, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



Richard Dyer in White claims that the ideological power of American whiteness relies largely on its invisibility, on its being equated with normality and common sense and on being perceived as "non-peculiarity, the space of ordinariness" (223). Similarly, Ruth Frankenburg maintains that among the effects of race privilege on white people are their "seeming normativity, their structured invisibility" (White Women, Race Matters 6). By contrast, Melissa Steyn, in her analysis of the way in which whiteness functions post-apartheid, argues that, in the case of South Africa, white people are "acutely aware of their whiteness" (Whiteness Just Isn't What It Used To Be 163). Sarah Nuttall also contends that there is a selfconsciousness to South African whiteness. She suggests that, ironically, in seeking to limit their performance of whiteness post-apartheid (by "watching themselves being watched") South African "whites" actually reinforce the primacy of whiteness by seeing it as implying a special responsibility (121).

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