Representation of Coloured identity in selected visual texts about Westbury, Johannesburg

Dannhauser, Phyllis D.
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In post-apartheid South Africa, Coloured communities are engaged in reconstructing identities and social histories. This study examines the representation of community, identity, culture and historic memory in two films about Westbury, Johannesburg, South Africa. The films are Westbury, Plek van Hoop, a documentary, and Waiting for Valdez, a short fiction piece. The ambiguous nature of Coloured identity, coupled with the absence of recorded histories and unambiguous identification with collective cultural codes, results in the representation of identity becoming contested and marginal. Through constructing narratives of lived experience, hybrid communities can challenge dominant stereotypes and subvert discourses of otherness and difference. Analysis of the films reveals that the Coloured community have reverted to stereotypical documentary forms in representing their communal history. Although the documentary genre lays claim to the representation of reality and authentic experience, documentary is not always an effective vehicle for the representation of lived experience and remembered history. Fiction can reinterpret memory by accessing the emotional textures of past experiences in a more direct way.
identity, Coloured, hybridity, documentary, fiction, "Waiting for Valdez", Westbury, gangsters, "Westbury, Plek van Hoop"