The 'haunting' and the 'haunted': whiteness, orthography and the (post)-Apartheid condition in Namibia

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In this paper I contend that a project of recovering one's ethnographic archive can engender not only a process of reflexivity, including on one's positionality, but also offer a heuristic device for exploring wider ethnographic issues. In starting with a reflection on my position as a white male researcher in Namibia, I focus my analysis to a broader exploration of whiteness in Namibia, and the enduring presence of apartheid in the (post)-apartheid era. In building on Tina Campt's haptic, I confront my own nostalgia and hauntings which emerged during the course of retrieving the orphaned ethnographic archive. In the process, I made space for making sense of the nostalgia and hauntings of other whites in Namibia, and more broadly, for exploring the relationship between whiteness and the (post)-apartheid condition. Further, I argue that a new vocabulary and orthography are needed for engaging with the (post)-apartheid condition. In traversing it as a series of puncta, I explore the complex interrelationship between whiteness’ hauntings – its historical claims on people, space and time – and the ways in which apartheid's traces continue to haunt whiteness in the (post)-apartheid period. Haunting and haunted, I argued that white people's experiences, narratives and perceptions in Namibia are characterized by historical inequalities and privilege, as well as a sense of dislocation and dispossession. Ultimately, it is my belief that, as noted earlier, (post)-apartheid must be viewed as a condition that does not yet fully exist, but can only be desired, being understood as deferred.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalHistory and Anthropology
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date3 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jun 2021


  • Namibia
  • Postapartheid
  • Whiteness
  • Archive
  • Auto-ethnography


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