Whiteness Just Isn't What It Used To Be
White Identity in a Changing South Africa
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Narratively explores how the changes in South Africa's social and political structure are changing the white population's identity and sense of self.
Winner of the 2002 Outstanding Book Award presented by the International and Intercultural Communication Division of the National Communication Association
The election of 1994, which heralded the demise of Apartheid as a legally enforced institutionalization of "whiteness," disconnected the prior moorings of social identity for most South Africans, whatever their political persuasion. In one of the most profound collective psychological experiences of the contemporary world, South Africans are renegotiating the meaning of their social positionalities. In this book, Melissa Steyn, herself a white South African, grapples with what it means to be white, reflecting on events in her past that still resonate with her today. Her research includes discourse with more than fifty white South Africans who are faced with reinterpreting their old selves in the light of new knowledge and possibilities. Framed within current debates of postcolonialism and postmodernism, "Whiteness Just Isn't What It Used To Be" explores how the changes in South Africa's social and political structure are changing the white population's identity and sense of self.
Melissa Steyn is Director of the Professional Communication Unit at the University of Cape Town and the coeditor of Cultural Synergy in South Africa: Weaving Strands of Africa and Europe.
"This book is exemplary in many aspects: the theoretical approach, the clear and transparent treatment of difficult and sensitive issues that surround discourses of race, the un-emphatic self reflexivity and the style: Steyn illustrates and enriches her arguments with mottos from fiction and non-fiction, poetry and songs." — L'Homme. Z.F.G.
"This seriously argued and sensitive book adds a fresh perspective to the discourse on white racism in South Africa. Confronting 'whiteness' from within, Melissa Steyn charts the only journey that promises to free white South Africans in any profound way from the full implications of the nightmare of their own making." — Njabulo S. Ndebele, author of South African Literature and Culture: Rediscovery of the Ordinary