Negotiating race and belonging in a post-apartheid South Africa: Bernadette’s stories

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 10
  • Abstract:

    Although apartheid officially ended in 1994, race as a primary marker of identity has continued to permeate many aspects of private and public life in a post-apartheid South Africa. This paper explores how race is discursively constructed through narrative, particularly the quoted speech of others. It focuses on the stories told by a single participant, Bernadette, in a focus group at a South African tertiary institution and argues that despite the fact that she overtly rejects racist ways of thinking and talking, her talk is still structured according to the apartheid logic of racial difference and hierarchy. The analytical framework draws on Labov's seminal work on narrative structure and more recent work by De Fina, Bamberg & Georgakopoulou to explore how she uses narrative to perform her identity both in the interactional moment as well as in terms of the broader social discourses which constitute her context.