Puzzling with whiteness: critical whiteness studies and the ‘new’ Poor White Problem in South Africa
“Does critical whiteness studies (CWS) have a future as a decolonial method? Early and influential critiques of what was a popular and growing field focused scholarly attention on a number of problem areas or “pitfalls” with CWS. I approach these pitfalls not as solvable problems but as conundrums demanding that anti-racist scholars puzzle with, or through, them.”
In his lecture, Scott will approach these puzzles in conversation with multimodal critical discourse analysis of a corpus of (audio)visual reportage of poor whites in post-apartheid South Africa. He will demonstrate how major news corporations – including the BBC and other prominent public broadcasters – have continued to undergird the myth-making necessary for white supremacy to persist.
Scott Burnett investigates the construction and repair of racial hierarchies privileging whiteness in spatial and environmentalist discourse. He is part of the research team at the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and lectures in strategic communication at Lund University in Helsingborg, Sweden. His doctoral thesis, entitled “Giving back the land: Whiteness and belonging in contemporary South Africa” was completed in 2018. His work has been published in leading journals such as ACME: an International Journal for Critical Geographies and Discourse, Context & Media.