Ironies, Others, and Afrikaners:

an analysis of selected print advertisements from DEKAT and Insig (1994-2009)

  • Theo Sonnekus PhD candidate, Department of Visual Arts, Stellenbosch University.
Keywords: advertising, Afrikaners, discourse, hybridity, irony, magazines, whiteness


The widespread contention is that the major social and political changes propelled by South Africa’s democratisation have sensitised some white Afrikaners to perceptions of loss and marginalisation. Their feelings of anomie and dislocation have been compounded by competing discourses of Afro-nationalism, which have delegitimised Afrikaner whiteness because of its inextricable links with apartheid. As a result, reactionary discourses have emerged to temper the threat of stigmatisation, and hinge on aspirations towards hybridisation and modernisation in the process of constructing “rehabilitated” Afrikaner identities. This article focuses on the manner in which particular discursive strategies, such as irony, are conducive to these processes of identity-work and manifest in a number of print advertisements that seem to appeal to the sensibilities of liberal, white, Afrikaans, upwardly mobile consumers. The advertisements have been obtained from two elite Afrikaans lifestyle magazines, DEKAT and Insig (Insight), for a period of 15 years following the collapse of the apartheid regime. The analyses of these images speculate on the extent to which they propagate a particular vision of Afrikaner whiteness, which is reconcilable with the post-apartheid landscape and an ethos of multiculturalism. This exploration, however, also critiques these emphases on non-racialism and the depoliticisation of ethnic markers such as Afrikaans as guarantees for the continued mobilisation of white Afrikaner capital (in economic and symbolic guises).