Rediscovering Poor Whites--The Politics of Picturing Poor Whites in South Africa: Omar Badsha and Nadine Hutton

A presentation by Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, University of California, Irvine. Part of the Spring 2011 Monday Africa Seminar Series "Institutions, Democratization and Citizenship in Africa" organzied by Edmond Keller, Department of Political Science and funded by a grant from the UCLA International Institute.

Monday, May 09, 2011
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
UCLA campus
10383 Bunche Hall
10th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90095

This presentation examines the role of two giants of South African social documentary photography. Photographer Omar Badsha edited the 1984 Carnegie Corporations poverty study, South Africa: A Cordoned Heart, making a critical historical intervention into the politics and racialized meanings associated with the economic history of poverty. Nadine Hutton, Badsha’s student, recently won national juried awards and exhibits widely in South Africa, offering a postcolonial feminist analysis of poor whites that interrogates gender, poverty, and the politics of family. As a reply to the history of poverty and poor whites that Carnegie bequeathed, Badsha and Hutton critique the resistance to analyzing the racial ontology of whiteness and the construction of poor whites as a cultural anomaly that is repeatedly rediscovered in the geopolitics of race.

Tiffany Willoughby-Herard is Assistant Professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Her research examines the international dimensions of racialization, racial identities, and the racialization of poverty. She studies the philanthropic and educational organizations that have had a global reach to talk about the production of traveling academic and popular debates about race, culture, poverty, and work. She is particularly interested in the influence that scholars from South Africa and the United States have had on each other in the framing of their distinctive national debates about race and post-raciality. As a comparative political theorist she is concerned about the function of race and enslavement in national identity which has important implications for theories of citizenship, immigration, democracy, and justice. Her current book project, "Waste of a White Skin: Carnegie and the Making of Global Whiteness and Misery," analyzes the political and historical impact and effects of the Carnegie Commission Study of Poor Whites in South Africa, 1927-1932. Waste of a White Skin is a study of the international dimensions of racialization of the poor in South Africa. Through attention to racial and class formations deployed by philanthropic organizations and social scientists in the United States and South Africa, I consider the politics of scientific racism and civilizing missions in particular with regard to the construction of the social identity “poor whites.”

Cost : Free and open to the public

African Studies Center

Sponsor(s): African Studies Center