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The Universal Sanctity of Whiteness: Antjie Krog\'s Negotiation of Black Responses to White Transformation in <i>A Change of Tongue</i>

M West
H van Vuuren


Country of My Skull (1998) emerged out of Antjie Krog's participation as a journalist covering the Truth and Reconciliation proceedings and consists mostly of the collected stories of individual trauma inflicted by the apartheid regime, which are overlaid with her own responses to these graphic details. A Change of Tongue (2003) is more autobiographical and personal than the earlier work, more searching in its negotiation of the complexities and paradoxes confronting white identities in relation to a new sense of unhomeliness in a space which had been reserved exclusively for whites as home. It is also less comfortably indicting of the regime responsible for the atrocities, and more willing to confront the continued force of whiteness as a cultural construct. Studies in whiteness are employed to investigate Krog's experimentation with genre and her experience of ‘race'. The
narrative perspective and its engagement with a post-apartheid crisis in white identity,
is explored, paying specific attention to the encounters recorded in the book with black
South Africans. This is done in order to map Krog's understanding of what post-apartheid
whiteness might represent and how it might be transformed. Such a mapping demonstrates
the ambivalences that emerge in the interstices of Krog's painful grappling with her growing sense of un-belonging as a white woman in post-apartheid South Africa.

Current Writing Vol. 19 (2) 2007: pp. 210-230

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eISSN: 2159-9130
print ISSN: 1013-929X