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Resensie: Sitting Pretty: White Afrikaans women in postapartheid South Africa

Sitting Pretty

Author:  Prof. Christi van der Westhuizen

At the opening of South Africa's first democratic parliament in 1994, newly elected president Nelson Mandela issued a clarion call to an unlikely group: white Afrikaans women, who during apartheid straddled the ambivalent position of being simultaneously oppressor and oppressed.

He conjured the memory of poet Ingrid Jonker as 'both an Afrikaner and an African' who 'instructs that our endeavours must be about the liberation of the woman, the emancipation of the man and the liberty of the child'. More than two decades later, the question is: how have white Afrikaans women responded to the liberating possibilities of constitutional democracy?

Sitting Pretty explores the postapartheid identity of white Afrikaans women. With Afrikaner nationalism in disrepair, and official apartheid in demise, have they re-imagined themselves in opposition to colonial ideas of race, gender, sexuality and class?

This book explores this postapartheid identity through the concepts of an ethnic form of respectability, and the mother of the nation, as enduring icon. Issues of intersectionality, space, emotion, and masculinity are also investigated.

This is a must read, for women as well as men. This book helps not only us as white Afrikaans men and women to understand ourselves better, but it also helps as with a better view on the road ahead.

Christi van der Westhuizen is associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pretoria.

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