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Retrieving Biko: a Black Consciousness critique of whiteness

Hook, Derek (2011) Retrieving Biko: a Black Consciousness critique of whiteness. African Identities 9 (1), pp. 19-32. ISSN 1472-5843.

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There is an important history often neglected by genealogies of ‘critical whiteness studies’: Steve Biko's Black Consciousness critique of white liberalism. What would it mean to retrieve this criticism in the context of white anti-racism in the post-apartheid era? Said's (2003) contrapuntal method proves useful here as a juxtaposing device whereby the writings of a past figure can be critically harnessed, travelling across temporal and ideological boundaries to interrogate the present. Four interlinked modes of disingenuous white anti-racism can thus be identified: (1) a fetishistic preoccupation with disproving one's racism; (2) ostentatious forms of anti-racism that function as means of self-promotion, as paradoxical means of white self-love; (3) the consolidation and extension of agency through redemptive gestures of ‘heroic white anti-racism’; (4) ‘charitable anti-racism’ which fixes tolerance within a model of charity, as an act of generosity and that reiterates the status and role of an anti-racist benefactor.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in [include the complete citation information for the final version of the article as published in African Identities 9(10, pp.19-32, 2009 [copyright Taylor & Francis], available online at:
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Biko, Black Consciousness, whiteness, anti-racism, post-apartheid
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Psychosocial Studies
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2012 10:57
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2016 11:58

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