Viral Whiteness: Twenty-first century global colonialities

by Shona Hunter and Christi van der Westhuizen (2022). In the Routledge Handbook of Critical Studies in Whiteness. Hunter and van der Westhuizen Eds.



'This chapter offers a decolonial approach to the critical study of whiteness. It focuses on twenty-first century global coloniality, characterised by neoliberalism's mix of necro-biopolitics and dependent on the toxic fantasies, materialities and global institutional, and interpersonal relationalities of whiteness. Critical race, decolonial, and black feminist theories are drawn together to confront the reproduction of whiteness in scholarship and practice and bring into view Global North/South relationalities. Starting with a critique of the politics of crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the layered argument references South Africa as Southern exemplar of the workings of global whiteness. We probe liberal and neoliberal shifts in whiteness before engaging the latest defensive reversion to a more explicitly violent whiteness in the form of a globalised ‘Apartheid 2.0’. Our friendly but challenging critique of the contested field of Critical Whiteness Studies includes questioning its key epistemologies: The ‘invisibility–ignorance–innocence’ triad and, lately, ‘white fragility’. The analysis problematises the field as part of the same possessive, narcissistic, masterly logic of coloniality whereby white subjects are understood to control mind over matter. In conclusion, the chapter reflects on a broader rehumaning effort to disrupt (neo)liberal colonialities’ organisation of life, death, and existence through race.'


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