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. Race-ing Fantasy

. Race-ing Fantasy

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in South Africa

(p.29) 2. Race-ing Fantasy
Africa in the American Imagination
Carol Magee
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter focuses on the first of three case studies in the investigation of how Africa is imagined through popular culture, namely the case of the 1996 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. On the issue’s cover, we find Valeria Mazza, a white woman, and Tyra Banks, a black woman, back to back in leopard-print bikinis. The issue was shot one year after the end of the apartheid era, the cover photograph seemingly celebrating the African nation’s new ideal for race relations. However, because the majority of Sports Illustrated consumers are American, this complicates the meaning simply because the American experience of race differs greatly from the experience of South Africans. This chapter, then, explores the complexities of the racialized discourses that surround the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in the United States.

Keywords:   popular culture, Sports Illustrated, Valeria Mazza, Tyra Banks, apartheid era, race relations, racialized discourses

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