Publication Date

Fall 2018

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


In post-apartheid South Africa, whiteness and the legacy of its codification shape the social, political, and economic landscape of the country. Though white studies in South Africa emerged as an investigation of how whiteness operates as a social identity post-apartheid, the field is still developing. This narrative project examines how whiteness has been constructed in South Africa as identity and property, referencing South African history for context. The project explores “whiteness as identity” as opposed to “white identity” in recognition that whiteness manifests in many forms, including as an identity but also within institutions and in economic, social, political, and personal spheres as a “property,” which is further explained in the “Background and Significance” and “Literature Review.” The project includes socio-political and historical analysis of whiteness in South Africa as a foundation for exploring six narratives of white South Africans in which participants describe their relationship to their white identity and what has shaped it. Data includes the use of books, articles, journals, first-person interviews, original poem excerpts, and other media. This project offers a qualitative approach in pursuit of increased understanding of a topic which requires complexity and nuance, and which has vast social implications. It explores the research question, “How is whiteness constructed as identity and property in South Africa?” Although it primarily focuses on whiteness as identity, it also explores whiteness as property, a concept which is further explained in the “Literature Review.”


African History | African Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification


Article Location