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Crip the elders and get out of white privilege free
  1. Leslie Swartz
  1. Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Professor Leslie Swartz, Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch 7602, Western Cape, South Africa; lswartz{at}


The question of identity positioning in relation to engagement with issues of social exclusion is complex. I am a white non-disabled South African man working on disability and care issues. I reflect on my representation of my parents, through memoirs and of Elsa Joubert, a doyenne of African writing. My depiction of these people as profoundly affected by disability and illness provides me as a privileged white scholar a way of marking my difference from stereotypical oppressive positioning. Though my rhetorical manoeuvres do not undercut the intention of my work, they point to broader, difficult questions about positioning and identity politics. I use my links to and concern with disability and illness to signal my appreciation of difference and exclusion, but questions of power and positioning remain.

  • Medical humanities
  • narrative medicine
  • palliative care
  • Politics
  • disability

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  • Contributors LS is the sole author.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.