'Pale Face'/'Pointy Face: SA Criminology in Denial

  • S Henkeman


This paper responds to key aspects of Bill Dixon’s article, Understanding ‘Pointy Face’: What is criminology for?1 It suggests that criminology should unambiguously be ‘for’ social justice in South Africa’s transhistorically unequal context. South African prison statistics are used as a conceptual shortcut to briefly highlight racialised constructions of crime, the criminal and the criminologist. A trans-disciplinary conceptual approach, as a more socially just way to understand violent crime in South Africa, is proposed. A methodological framework,2 which draws on the notion of cultural-structural-direct violence3 and intersectional theory,4 is presented. These extend Bill Dixon’s call for criminology to include history, structure, human psyche and biography5 and resonates with Biko Agozino’s call for a ‘counter-colonial’ criminology.6 The paper ends by returning the Eurocentric gaze of most South African criminologists, calling them out on their denial about trans-historical violence that implicates ‘Pale Face’ in the violence of ‘Pointy Face’.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 1991-3877