WP144 Negotiating race and belonging in post-Apartheid South Africa: Bernadette’s stories

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Post-structuralist perspectives on race view it as a social construct, an outcome of a colonial project which sought to categorise and rank people in a hierarchy naturalising a view of whites or Europeans as superior to other races. Although apartheid officially ended in 1994, the issue of 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 narratives of personal experience and more recent work by De Fina, Bamberg & Georgakopoulou who argue that people use stories to ?create (and perpetuate) a sense of who they are? both in the interactional moment as well as in terms of the broader master narratives which constitute their context.