Seminar: ‘Knowing Transformation: Race, space, and epistemic power in one post-apartheid South African town

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Location: Social Sciences Building. Room 11.20.

The White Spaces Postgraduate Research Network invites you to ‘Knowing Transformation: Race, space, and epistemic power in one post-apartheid South African town‘ by Haley McEwan.


This paper examines space, identity and power in Prince Albert, a small town in the South African Karoo, through analysis of white constructions of change in the town since the end of apartheid. In doing so, analysis seeks to contribute to the growing stream of critical philosophy concerned with the relationship between racialised systems of inequality and ways of knowing. Through analysis of semi-structured in-depth interviews with white residents as well as documentary sources, this paper demonstrates the ways in which concepts of heritage and tourism, as western ideological constructs that serve white middle class interests, are antagonistic to the broader national imperative of transformation and operate to maintain historical inequalities and subjectivities. Beyond theorisation, the purpose of the discussion is to interrupt dominant and “common sense” discourses that claim tourism and heritage can promote socio-economic empowerment of previously colonised peoples in developing countries.

Haley McEwen BA, Social Relations (Michigan State University); MPhil, Diversity Studies (University of Cape Town)

Haley is currently working with Melissa Steyn to establish a Centre for Diversity Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, SA. As Research Coordinator in the Centre, Haley is involved in the conceptualisation and implementation of interdisciplinary research projects and activities as well as teaching topics related to diversity and social justice. Haley’s research interests draw on critical race theory, spatiality, epistemologies, and sexuality studies and she will be registering for her PhD in 2013 at Wits. Haley has lived and worked in South Africa since 2005.