Negotiating the '(Ab)normality' of (Anti-)Apartheid: Transnational Relations within a Dutch-South African Family

Barbara Henkes*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This article examines how the politics of Apartheid manifested themselves in networks that connected South Africa and the Netherlands. It analyses the transfer of narratives, images, ideas and political practices within a transnational kinship network, as well as through networks of political activists in both countries and worldwide. The footage a Dutch documentary maker shot during the 1980s, especially his focus on his well-established, 'white' relatives from South Africa and their encounters with 'black' compatriots, is used to trace these transnational dynamics. His material reveals the various narratives and markers of whiteness by which his relatives presented their privileged position in Apartheid South Africa as 'normal', while interviews with the filmmaker and some of his relatives in South Africa and the Netherlands some 25 years later give insights in how their performances were reshaped and received as 'abnormal' within the Dutch political context at the time. The post-apartheid memory work involved, show how the political and moral dilemmas are still felt to this day.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)526-554
    Number of pages29
    JournalSouth African Historical Journal
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • South Africa
    • the Netherlands
    • migration
    • kinship networks
    • 'stamverwantschap'
    • (anti-)Apartheid
    • African National Congress (ANC)
    • transnationality
    • racial discourse
    • whiteness
    • memory work
    • film
    • performance

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