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White Fright: the politics of white youth identity in South Africa

By Nadine Dolby
In the 1990s, ‘whiteness’ in South Africa was open to multiple rearticulations. As white is politically (although not necessarily economically) unhinged from a position of privilege, it finds new paths and trajectories to follow. In this article, I examine how white students at a predominantly black high school in Durban remake and resuscitate whiteness. Using the strategy of resentment, white students negate and dismiss both the historical and contemporary position of their black classmates, instead recentring themselves as victims. As they survey their lives and futures, white students also plot routes of escape out of South Africa, taking refuge in a global whiteness that has many different facets. As white students elude and evade the boundaries of the nation-state in their quest for a secure, privileged whiteness, they lead whiteness to a global stage.

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