ELCH - Studies in English Literary and Cultural History - Vol. 5

ELK - Studien zur Englischen Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft - Band 5

Jochen Petzold

Re-imagining White Identity by Exploring the Past:
History in South African Novels of the 1990s


This study intends to show how seven novels by four South African authors (re)imag­ine white identity by re-examining the past, at a moment in the history of South Africa where the narratives of identity-formation are undergoing considerable changes. Estab­lished concepts of South African identities werde destabilized by the political changes of the 1990s which ended white minority rule; identities can now be re­nego­tiated in a post-apartheid setting. The idea of a shared history plays an important role in the con­struction of collective identities, and in various ways the novels by André Brink, Anne Landsman, Mike Nicol and Jo-Anne Richards explore South Africa’s past, exposing the breaks and fissures that were covered up by the ,intentional history‘ the apartheid system used to legitimize its version of white identity and white su­prem­acy. The analy­sis of the seven novels emphasizes how new concepts of white identity are explored by either strenghtening or deconstructing those forces that create external boundaries for group identity on the one hand, and those forces that ho­mo­genize the internal hetero­geneity of the group on the other hand. Finally, the question is pursued to what extent the seven novels can be read as individual attempts at build­ing (or imagining) a ,Rain­bow Nation‘.


ISBN 3-88476-529-9, 256 S., kt., € 26,00 (2002)


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