'A thinning of skin': writing on and against whiteness

Ware, Vron (2013) 'A thinning of skin': writing on and against whiteness. Life Writing, 10(3), pp. 245-260. ISSN (print) 1448-4528


This article considers how women's life writing has offered a situated mode of resistance to dominant racial regimes in the US and South Africa. Based on a reading of diverse texts, it employs concepts such as entanglement, disentanglement, estrangement and dislocation as keys to understand the relationship between blackness and whiteness, not in abstract, theoretical terms but as a complex configuration of meanings arising from and within specific circumstances. It examines the technique of self-disclosure in life writing against racism as a means to illustrate the tentacles of power and privilege on many levels, and suggests a way of reading and interpreting self-narratives as a means to work through the psychological, material and symbolic processes entailed in the struggle for change. South African writer Antjie Krog work frames this enquiry since her life-project is both ontological, expressed as a search for a different kind of self, and epistemological, in the sense that this it explores the possibility of a different way of knowing. This task requires a deep reckoning with aspects of the past, her own as well as the catastrophic legacies of European colonial expansion and apartheid.

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