Postapartheid Remains: South African Nationalisms and their Fictions and Frictions

Christi van der Westhuizen (Nelson Mandela University, South Africa)

The weekly colloquium of the Collaborative Research Centre provides a forum for presentations by external guests as well as by members of the SFB 1199 within a tailored thematic framework. The format helps to create a common ground for discussion between guests, the Collaborative Research Centre, as well as the wider academic public.

The colloquium will be held in person.


The 20th century making of South Africa is a history of the conflict among multiple nationalisms, fuelled by rapacious racial capitalism. British imperialism, as nationalism writ large, provoked the rise of two contenders in the early 1910s: African nationalism and Afrikaner nationalism. Afrikaner nationalism imposed its vision of a purified volk, the ethnic and racial lynchpin of the updated set of colonial technologies called apartheid, which extended to the level of the subject. In contrast to apartheid stood the growing idea of an ever-more inclusive nation, ethnically and racially, particularly in the politics of the African National Congress. The end of official apartheid and the advent of constitutional democracy in 1994 unhinged Afrikaner whiteness. Applying the concept of ordentlikheid (respectability) in relation to gender, the paper probes what is left of ‘the Afrikaner’ and its intersectional production of external and internal others. Afrikaner nationalism is considered in its reduced, postapartheid enclaving mode. The focus is then turned to Afrikaner nationalism’s nemesis, African nationalism – in particular, the remains of race in currently resurgent populist forms.

Biographical Note

Christi van der Westhuizen (Nelson Mandela University, South Africa)

Christi van der Westhuizen, Associate Professor and Senior Researcher, is the head of the Research Programme at CANRAD. She was invited on a Visiting Professorship to Leipzig University, Germany, in 2022. As transdisciplinary scholar interested in identities, differences, ideologies and discourses with a focus on (post)apartheid South Africa, she has published widely, both academically and popularly. 

Prof Van der Westhuizen was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA), University of Cape Town, and held research associateships with the University of KwaZulu Natal and Free State University. She previously worked as an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Pretoria.

She has served on several global initiatives, including as an expert on globalisation and gender on a project for the World Communion of Reformed Churches. Her working life started at the anti-apartheid weekly newspaper Vrye Weekblad and she worked as a Senior Political Correspondent in Parliament and as an Associate Editor for a not-for-profit global online news agency focusing on social justice.