Challenging Crossroads: A Critical Discourse Analysis on the Intersections of Race, Gender, Class, Ethnicity, Sexuality and Ensuing Discursive Counterreactions in Female Apartheid Narratives

March 2023 to March 2027
apartheid discourse
discourse analysis
feminist theory
comparative literary studies
Stellenbosch University (South Africa)
Research fields
Languages and Literatures

Between 1948 and 1994, the National Party installed the apartheid regime in South Africa, based on the communicating vessels of racism and sexism, which permeated the entire country and its inhabitants. Its discriminatory effects were not only tangible for darker skinned people, but also for women, people of the lower class, ethnic minority groups and persons with a sexual orientation diverging from the heteronormative ideal. When two or more of such categories intersected, it had specific consequences for the people who were classified by it. One axis did not simply coexist with another, but both reinforced each other, resulting in multidimensional forms of oppression and inequality. The proposed research project focuses on those intersections of race, gender, class, ethnicity and sexuality, their outcomes and evolution over time, which to date have not been sufficiently addressed in systematic studies. To this end, a literary text corpus of 6 narratives by 3 South African female authors is subjected to a critical discourse analysis. The intersections and inequalities are examined on a discursive level by investigating how the apartheid discourse utilises language to justify them and enhance its hegemony. In addition, the counterreactions of the women writers will be analysed by elucidating their discursive practices which act as resistance against the apartheid system, drawing on anti-racism, feminism and egalitarianism.