White on the margin: post-apartheid white poverty and the politics of homogeneity

Monday, 17 October, 2016 - 15:00

Presented by : 
After the democratization of South Africa in 1994 white South Africans experienced, generally, a rise in economic power. Yet, the increasingly loud voices of politically conservative whites describe the current South African state as one that economically oppresses white South Africans through processes they refer to as “reverse apartheid” and "reverse racism". Such arguments often refer to so-called “new poor-whites” who, it is argued, exemplifies the negative effects of post-apartheid economic policies. This paper focuses on King Edward Park, a former camping site where poorer whites have squatted since the early 2000s. Contrary to wide-spread reports that ascribe a rise in white poverty after apartheid to the implementation of affirmative action policies, the paper argues that many of the Park's residents do not share the conservative political views in which they are implicated. However, as contributions and donations by conservatives whites constitute a large portion of the capital that sustains the Park, residents are weary of contradicting the racially charged narratives produced by the political right. I argue that the Park's residents and their supporters engage in a politics of homogeneity and consequently imagine ethno-race to be the sole determining factor in the lives of white South Africans after apartheid.

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