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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Winnie Mandela: The Surveillance and Excess of 'Black Woman' as Signifier
Author:Lewis, DesireeISNI
Periodical:SAFERE: Southern African Feminist Review (ISSN 1024-9451)
Geographic terms:South Africa
Southern Africa
Subjects:black women
biographies (form)
Politics and Government
Biography, Obituaries
Mandela, Winnie
political participation
About person:Winnie Mandela-Madikizela (1934-1918)ISNI
Abstract:Rather than write about Winnie Mandela, the present author writes about how she has been talked about: what she has 'meant', and how and why interpretations of her have ranged so dramatically from extreme idealization to vilification both inside South Africa and beyond. The politics of Winnie Mandela's deposition can most clearly be explained in terms of her deviation from the image of 'role model'. Being defined as a black woman role model means becoming a manageable signifier in the logic of hegemonic, white, male discourses. From an admirable role model, Winnie became in the 1980s more and more of an unpredictable figure who acted for herself and independently worked the images that had developed around her. By doing so, she subverted and unsettled the discursive logic which surveys, polices, controls, names and judges black woman as signifier. She became too much of a floating signifier, too wild, too much of herself. Her vilification, then, is not so much motivated by moral or political outrage against the implications of what she has done as by frustration with a wayward and anarchic cipher which has dared to refuse legitimate object positions in dominant discourses.