STREAM: The Social Fabric of Whites in Southern Africa: A Historical Perspective of White Society

STREAM: The Social Fabric of Whites in Southern Africa: A Historical Perspective of White Society

The attainment of liberation across Southern Africa has led to many countries confronting their racial past. This has manifested itself most notably over the issue of land. In the broader racial discussion (often through the lens of black and white), a nuanced understanding of white society in the African context over the course of the twentieth century remains open to academic inquiry. Debates on white societies in the postcolonial period are critically less engaged on the subtleties and dynamics within white communities, and place emphasis on the material benefits that came with being white. Though the colonial context put whites in a position of privilege, fierce contestations existed producing a divided community often along class, which continues in the postcolonial era. This stream will seek to extricate white society by investigating aspects that speak to the loose strings that bound these communities together. Submitted papers for this stream may address issues such as class divisions, gender positionality, ethnic differences, and cultural and social norms. In discussing the nuances of white society historically, the stream can provide understanding and lay the ground for a far more informed discussion on white society and its place in postcolonial southern Africa. As a contribution to existing scholarship, this stream may introduce a new dimension to settler colonialism.  Dominant aspects in settler colonialism scholarship emphasize metropole-colony relations or settler-indigenous relations and power dynamics. By way of the panel papers, settler colonial scholarship could be expanded by looking at the white society in southern Africa, complicating the white experience as complex and antagonistic in nature, adding a new aspect to this field.

Confirmed Panels:

Panel 1:

  • Afrikaner activism in South Africa advocating for the “Selfbeskikking of Afrikaners”, de Rooij, Laurens (University of Chester, Chester, United Kingdom)
  • Black and white in writing South African Jewish art history, Simonson, Karina (Lithuanian Culture Research Institute, Vilnius, Lithuania | Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, Vilnius, Lithuania)
  • Literary Perspectives on Whiteness in post-2000 Zimbabwe, Pfalzgraf, Magdalena (New English Literatures & Cultures, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Frankfurt/Main, Germany)

Panel 2:

  • ‘A Whore Might be Relieved but not I’: Insanity and the Moral and Political Economy of German South West Africa., Fumanti, Mattia (University of St Andrews, St Andrews, United Kingdom)
  • “You can judge a bad European by the number of big dogs he has”: A History of Dogs, Race and White Settlers in Zambia – 1960 to the present, Doble, Joshua (University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom)
  • The Nature of Settler Society in Southern Rhodesia in the 1960s and 1970s, Mlombo, Abraham (University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)
  • The Centrality of Wage Labour to the Construction and Performance of Class, Gender and Race in the Settler Colonial Context: White Masculinity and Femininity at Work in Southern Rhodesia, 1920-1980, Ginsburgh, Nicola (University of Warwick, GRAYS, United Kingdom)


If you have any queries or suggestions please contact Abraham Mlombo ( For panel and paper submissions please follow the instructions on the website 

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