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Phronimon

On-line version ISSN 2413-3086

Abstract

MATTHEWS, Sally. Shifting white identities in South Africa: White Africanness and the struggle for racial justice. Phronimon [online]. 2015, vol.16, n.2, pp. 112-129. ISSN 2413-3086.

The end of apartheid predictably caused something of an identity crisis for white South Africans. The sense of uncertainty about what it means to be white has led to much public debate about whiteness in South Africa, as well as a growing body of literature on whites in post-apartheid South Africa. One of the many responses to this need to rethink white identity has been the claim by some that white South Africans can be considered to be African or ought to begin to think of themselves as being African. This paper argues that whites' assertion of an African identity does not necessarily assist in the achievement of racial justice, but that some kind of shift in white identity is required in order for whites to be able to contribute to the achievement of a racially just South Africa. In making this argument, the paper brings contemporary discussions on race and whiteness, and in particular discussions about racial eliminativism, to bear on the question of whether or not white South Africans may rightly claim an African identity.

Keywords : Racial eliminativism; white Africans; post-apartheid; whiteness; African identity; Africanness.

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