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Abstract

Anthropological writing both by whites on Africa and on whites in Africa demonstrates an ongoing regeneration of the other, not only through political or historical discourse but also through face-to-face encounters on Africa’s streets, in its workplaces, and elsewhere. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to many whites, many of whom struggle to ‘belong’ in places where their skin color carries significant symbolism and connotation. ‘Being’ white in Africa – whether as settler, expatriate, anthropologist etc. - involves the on-going challenge of negotiating one’s identity against a complex landscape of race and power. The purpose of this essay is to examine representations of ‘whiteness’ against that landscape. Contrasting connotations of whiteness in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya, I demonstrate how whiteness is problematized by a significant dissonance in its meaning.

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