Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 1, 2008

(Mis)taken Identities. Myths of Origin in a South African Familienroman

Ulrike Kistner
From the journal

An enormously media-effective story of a post-apartheid South-African family romance, played out within the positioning of a subject between a putative white birth-family and a putative black foster-home, has raised concern about a post-apartheid resurrection of apartheid-style racial categorisation. A more nuanced analysis of racialization is possible. In the story of this South African family romance, “race” becomes a part of a derivatively self-ascribed identity that is not “given” but effectively problematical in a strenuous search for origins involving the relationship between nature, culture, society, and agency. This historical labor does not yield up the origin, but renders it split between ontogenesis and phylogenesis, whose relationship is analysed here in psychoanalytic terms. These two axes are distinct in the outcomes produced in negotiating their respective trajectories, but become conjoined in racialising discourses. Superimposing the racial epidermal schema on the corporal schema is what constitutes the psycho-sociopathic conundrum enveloping the story of Happy Sindane.

Published Online: 2008-09-01
Published in Print: 2008-August

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