Women and Crime in Post-Transitional South African Crime Fiction

A Study of Female Victims, Perpetrators and Detectives


In this ground-breaking study, Sabine Binder analyses the complex ways in which female crime fictional victims, detectives and perpetrators in South African crime fiction resonate with widespread and persistent real crimes against women in post-apartheid South Africa. Drawing on a wide range of crime novels written over the last decade, Binder emphasises the genre’s feminist potential and critically maps its political work at the intersection of gender and race. Her study challenges the perception of crime fiction as a trivial genre and shows how, in South Africa at least, it provides a vibrant platform for social, cultural and ethical debates, exposing violence, misogyny and racism and shedding light on the problematics of law and justice for women faced with crime.
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Sabine Binder is a senior lecturer at the Zurich University of Teacher Education. She has published on South African crime fiction, gender and teaching methodology.
“Die vorliegende Analyse zeigt auf, dass der südafrikanische Kriminalroman sich als Plattform für eine soziale, kulturelle und ethische Debatte versteht.”
- Thomas Przybilka, BoKAS – Bonner Krimi Archiv Sekundärliteratur Germany, in Der Krimi-Tipp Sekundärliteratuur Vol. 71 2021 pp. 5-6

1 Choice of Texts and Approach
2 Post-Transitional Literature
3 Post-Transitional Crime Fiction and Crime Discourse
4 Post-Transitional Gender Conflicts
5 Preview of Chapters

1 The Female Victim
1 The Female Victim: Introduction
2 Boniswa Sekeyi and Lulu: Witnesses of Systemic and Sexual Violence in Penny Lorimer’s Finders Weepers
3 Resisting Arrest: Amahle Matebula, Female Victim in Malla Nunn’s Blessed Are the Dead
4 Serial Female Victimhood: Margie Orford’s Clare Hart Series
5 The Female Victim: Conclusion

2 The Female Perpetrator
1 The Female Perpetrator: Introduction 2 Mike Nicol’s Femme Fatale Sheemina February: Empowered Female Agent or Symptom of Male Fears?
3 Jassy Mackenzie’s Renegade Detective Jade de Jong: Exploring Femininity and Justice
4 Angela Makholwa’s Black Widow Society: Collective Female Terror against Gender Norms
5 The Female Perpetrator: Conclusion

3 The Female Detective
1 The Female Detective: Introduction
2 Not That Kind of Cop: Michéle Rowe’s Detective Constable Persy Jonas
3 Not What South Africans Expect: Hawa Jande Golakai’s Investigator Vee Johnson
4 Renegade Contained: Charlotte Otter’s Investigative Journalist Maggie Cloete
5 The Female Detective: Conclusion


Works Cited

All interested in crime fiction and its gender/racial political potential, its cultural relevance, its ethics and aesthetics, in South Africa and beyond.
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