White on Black in South Africa: Study of English-language Inscriptions of Skin Colour

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The English-speaking whites of South Africa participate in the larger culture of the English-speaking world while rejecting its unspoken consensual positions on many basic issues. This study analyzes texts of different kinds produced by the group to examine the way these deviant English-speakers see themselves, and particularly how this self-image is influenced by the presence of the blacks who constitute a crucial part of their perceptual field. Economically powerful but politically marginal for many years, the English-speaking whites have always been mediators of their community's experience to the world culture of the English language; the study shows how the act of mediation operates in more than one direction, producing a literary tradition that is essentially - and perhaps surprisingly - dissident.