The politics of whiteness in Africa
Jacob Boersema (Amsterdam University/ Rutgers University )
Danelle van Zyl-Hermann (University of Basel)
Start time:
28 June, 2013 at 10:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

What place do whites still have in Africa? This panel invites papers on historical and contemporary perspectives on the politics of whiteness in a variety of African settings. Themes include neoliberalism and class; popular culture and identity; citizenship and belonging; space, memory and ritual.

Long abstract:

Colonial Africa boasted a white population of up to 10 million, concentrated in South Africa, South-West Africa, Rhodesia, Kenya and the Belgian Congo. But in the post-colonial and post-apartheid context, what place do whites still have in Africa? Can they forge a new sense of belonging to the continent that does not rest on dominance and racial privilege? Which new practices of citizenship emerge out of the rubble of colonialism and to what extend are these supported by neoliberal structures? This panel draws together historical and contemporary perspectives on the politics of whiteness in a variety of African settings. Recent decades have seen the burgeoning of the field of whiteness studies investigating the social construction of whiteness as a racialised ideology tied to social status. Whites are often overlooked as active participants in the constitution of modern African states and dynamic actors in the ongoing configuration of contemporary Africa and its challenges. Yet whites remain as intricately bound up with histories of colonialism, exploitation and liberation as their black compatriots. This panel seeks to destabilise conventional approaches by specifically investigating whiteness in a minority setting, while also fracturing notions of white homogeneity in Africa. We encourage interdisciplinary dialogue and welcome submissions on whites in all parts of Africa. Central themes may include class and the phenomenon of white poverty; popular culture; the interaction of global and local identities; changing notions of citizenship and belonging; race and space; the appropriation of and resistance to Africanisation; memory and ritual making.