Thrice Othered: The (In)Visibility of Difference

By Lindi Helené.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The identities of others in South Africa have been formed by a history of struggle. Although, severely crippled by the Censorship Act, before 1994, visual media in South Africa have grown in leaps and bounds, tackling tumultuous themes of segregation, otherness and inequality. Almost a decade and a half later it is important, not only to acknowledge the change that the representation of othered bodies has achieved in South Africa, but also critically to question the representation, of bodies once othered as women, twice othered as non- western, and thrice othered as lesbian.
Deviance and confrontation of dominant tropes of patriarchal, imperial, compulsive heterosexuality are only valid if queer cultural forms, utterances and behaviours are (made) visible. Visibility is often touted as the way for marginalised identities, particularly queered subjects, to gain subjectivity and rights within the mainstream. Visibility, however, risks solidifying and commodifying imperial, heterosexual inscriptions.
The attempt to reclaim lesbian subjectivity by any means possible, to negotiate representation in the language of the Father, is the only way to intervene in the dominant narratives of colonial, capitalist, patriarchal heteronormativity. This research critically examines the representation of lesbians in South Africa, by making use of a cinematic case study, namely The World Unseen. The monologues of intolerance, within the South African narrative of pre- and post-apartheid, as well as the world at large, contribute to the misinformation and misrepresentation, and the essential (in)visibility of thrice othered and all bodies othered. In a sense our victories, our transgressions culminate in a world unseen.

Keywords: Thrice Othered, (In)Visability, Difference, Lesbian, Queer Theory, Cinematic Case Study

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp.133-142. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 750.612KB).

Lindi Helené

Lecturer, Multi Media, Greenside Design Center, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Lindi Maritz is a full-time lecturer in design and critical studies at Greenside Design Center. She is a practising visual author and specialises in digital culture and queer studies. Lindi was a finalist in the Design Achievers Awards 2008 which fuelled an intimate and long standing passion for community, design and research. She is currently involved in collaborative projects with multiple media artists to produce visual artefacts which are not only innovative, beautiful and significant but also challenge social and cultural norms.

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