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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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.