The spectre-image: A hauntology of Skoonheid and Kanarie

Dis/Positions: Reflections on Gender, Sexuality, Race and Culture

Keywords: Counter-enunciations, hauntology, racial erasure, spectre-image, structural absence


The aim of this paper is to interrogate and trace the ghosts of heteronormative whiteness – and thus the spectres of queerness and blackness, specifically racial erasure through gendered foregrounding – in two recent motion pictures dealing with white, Afrikaner homosexuality, namely the 2011 film, Skoonheid (Beauty) and the 2018 film Kanarie (Canary). My aim is to look beyond the osten-sible strengths of these films in terms of their representations of Afrikaner homosexual masculinities, both during and since the disbandment of apartheid, in order to see whether these films are indeed as politically progressive as they seem to be. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze’s cinema books and Jacques Derrida’s notion of hauntology – a wordplay on ‘haunting’ and ‘ontology’ – I investigate here the ways in which subjectivities and geographies (place/space) in Skoonheid and Kanarie produce and reproduce knowledges about race, gender and difference, and map some ways in which these are assimilated into socio-political, geographical and temporal configurations through what I call the spectre-image.