Original Articles

The invisibility of richness: A critique of Vice’s ‘strange place’

Published in: South African Journal of Philosophy
Volume 31, issue 4, 2012, pages: 702–716
DOI: 10.1080/02580136.2012.10751803
Author(s): Charles VilletSchool of Social Science, South Africa

Abstract

This article builds on Samantha Vice’s argument on the problem of whiteness in contemporary South Africa. I will explore the thesis of invisibility regarding whiteness and argue for its relevance to the rich per se. This thesis demonstrates how white privilege and affluence, despite being glaringly visible in a concrete sense, is rendered invisible together with the mostly black poverty by which it is contrasted. The invisibility of whiteness translates and flows into the so-called ‘invisibility of richness’, which involves anyone who is economically affluent in this country and has the same effect of rendering poverty invisible. The massive and ever-growing divide between rich and poor means that both have fundamentally incommensurate experiences of life in this country, which is why post-apartheid South Africa is such a strange place to live in for all of its inhabitants. In the latter part of the article, a suggestion will be made about what the appropriate response to the injustices of this strange place might look like for whites.

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