n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Liplappen en Nonna's : presentatie van een beoogd onderzoek - : navorsings- en oorsigartikel

Volume 54, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


This is an abstract of the paper I gave on 13 September 2013, the day on which the Elisabeth Eybers bursary was awarded to me. This award gives me the opportunity to conduct a comparative and transnational study on the representations of interraciality in South African and Dutch-Indies narratives written between1900 and 1950. The concept of "interracial representation" encompasses images of "mixed race" as well as of meetings and contacts, including intimate and domestic relationships between characters of different racial backgrounds. The aim is to show a part of the similarities and cultural interactions and affiliations between the Netherlands and South Africa.
Earlier, I have investigated the representations of "Indo's" and "mixed race" in (post)colonial Dutch films and literature, that is to say, the narratives written about the former Dutch East Indies (nowadays the Republic of Indonesia) both in the colonial and postcolonial era. This research as well as my introductory readings of Afrikaans literature have convinced me, in accordance with V.A. February's remarks in (1981), that there is a fascinating relation between Afrikaans and Dutch literature in terms of representations of "coloured" and "Indo" people:

... it would be interesting to see to what extent the image of the Indo, that is, the Dutch Indonesian half-breed, shows any comparison with that of the 'Cape coloured' in South Africa [...] In fact, reading through novels dealing with the Indo, at times one is forcibly reminded of the South African literary scene, and left with just a sneaking suspicion that the inhabitants at the Cape and the Afrikaner in particular, may have unconsciously inherited a Dutch literary tradition via the East Indies. (February 1981:55)

In my comparative study I focus on the first half of the twentieth century when ideas on "racial purity" and "racial mixture" changed drastically and became much more harsh than before, both in South Africa and the Dutch East Indies.
Authors of fiction in those years modelled their work according to European examples of literature, particularly to styles of naturalism and realism, as well as British class novels in which the complexity of colonial power, desires and intimacies come to the fore. In order to counter the stereotypes in literary accounts which were mostly written by white authors I also plan to analyse family photographs, taken by "coloured" and "Indo" people themselves to take into account the performance of (desired) identities and self images.

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