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When Whites Riot

Writing Race and Violence in American and South African Cultures

Sheila Smith McKoy

Publication Year: 2001

In a bold work that cuts across racial, ethnic, cultural, and national boundaries, Sheila Smith McKoy reveals how race colors the idea of violence in the United States and in South Africa—two countries inevitably and inextricably linked by the central role of skin color in personal and national identity.
    Although race riots are usually seen as black events in both the United States and South Africa, they have played a significant role in shaping the concept of whiteness and white power in both nations. This emerges clearly from Smith McKoy's examination of four riots that demonstrate the relationship between the two nations and the apartheid practices that have historically defined them: North Carolina's Wilmington Race Riot of 1898; the Soweto Uprising of 1976; the Los Angeles Rebellion in 1992; and the pre-election riot in Mmabatho, Bhoputhatswana in 1994. Pursuing these events through narratives, media reports, and film, Smith McKoy shows how white racial violence has been disguised by race riots in the political and power structures of both the United States and South Africa.
    The first transnational study to probe the abiding inclination to "blacken" riots, When Whites Riot unravels the connection between racial violence—both the white and the "raced"—in the United States and South Africa, as well as the social dynamics that this connection sustains.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Several people have been instrumental and inspirational to me during my research for this book. The debt that lowe to many of them can never be repaid. Cathy Davidson, Elizabeth Mudimbe-Boyi, Susan Willis, and so many others at Duke University inspired me to transform my obsession into a book. It would be impossible to thank Karla F. C. Holloway enough for her incredible insight, for her theoretical rigor, and for her presence in ...

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Introduction: White Riot—Binding American and South African Cultures

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pp. 3-10

What does it mean that at the close of every century-and increasingly at the end of every decade-we question the racial contours of society, focusing on the ways in which race functions as a cultural tropism? Indeed, what national contours are shaped by the idea of race, especially in America and South Africa, which are themselves national bodies defined by the idea of racial difference and white supremacy? In the United States and South Africa...

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1. Riot-Making: Ululation, Resistance, and Reclamation

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pp. 11-30

I n the fall of I998 something extraordinary happened in the United States and South Africa. Both governments, the latter under the leadership of the first black South African president, Nelson Mandela, published official documents characterizing the state of race relations in their respective countries. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission published its findings in the same...

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2. Reading the Riot Act: The Teleology of Charles Chesnutt's The Marrow of Tradition and the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898

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pp. 31-70

In her witness narrative of the race riot in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898, Adelaide Peterson provides us with a provocative remembrance of the scene. Included in Jack Thorne's novel, Hanover; or, The Persecution of the Lowly, the narrative was one of many witness statements David Bryant Fulton collected for his novel about the incident which he published under the Thorne pseudonym. Peterson ends her narrative by texturizing the racial and sexual undercurrents...

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3. Rioting in a State of Siege: The Cultural Contexts of Sipho Sepamla's A Ride on the Whirlwind and the Soweto Uprising of 1976

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pp. 71-92

C hades Chesnutt did not limit his observations about race and cultural violence to his expose of the white riot in Wilmington, North Carolina. Years before W. E. B. DuBois wrote his theory of race, Charles Chesnutt had explored the cultural pretexts of white riot both in the United States and internationally.1 At the time of the Wilmington white riot, South Africa was preparing for...

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4. Subverting the Silences: Historicizing White Riot in Fiction and Film

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pp. 93-116

The narrative structure of A Ride on the Whirlwind is textured by Sepamla's use of news headlines that not only reveal important information about the rising action of the novel, but that also comment on how the majority press serves the prevailing social order. The news Sepamla...

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Epilogue: The Tie That Binds—Los Angeles and Mmabatho, White Riot on the Cusp of a New Millennium

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pp. 117-130

I have already noted, there is something insidious about the ways n. in which apartheid culture manufactures images of racial and ethnic identities and subsequently identifies whiteness as the antithesis of these racial constructions. The most vilified representation is that ascribed to blackness. Ultimately, the black body becomes a social text which can be...


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pp. 131-148

Works Cited and Selected Bibliography

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pp. 149-158


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pp. 159-160


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pp. 161-170

E-ISBN-13: 9780299173937
E-ISBN-10: 0299173933
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299173944
Print-ISBN-10: 0299173941

Page Count: 182
Illustrations: 12 b/w photos
Publication Year: 2001