Afrikaner nationalism, apartheid, and the conceptualisation of "race"

Show simple item record Dubow, Saul 2010-09-14T11:19:25Z 2010-09-14T11:19:25Z 1991-09-23
dc.description African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 23 September, 1991 en_US
dc.description.abstract In recent years our historical understanding of Afrikaner nationalism has been transformed. No longer is it possible to talk of Afrikaner nationalism in terms of an unchanging, timeless tradition. Nor can we speak of the Afrikaner nationalist movement as a socially undifferentiated entity, pursuing its own primordial ethnic agenda. We now have a much deeper understanding of the ways in which Afrikaner identity was forged from the late nineteenth century, and the means by which Afrikaner ethnicity was mobilised in order to capture state power in the twentieth century. Gaps in our knowledge nevertheless remain. One such silence concerns the relationship between Christian-nationalism and the conceptualisation of racial difference. This omission partly reflects a general state of amnesia about the place of racist ideas in Western thought. In South Africa it has been exacerbated by materialist scholarship's fear of "idealism'. The ideology of race has therefore tended to be discussed in terms of its functional utility: for example, the extent to which racist ideas can be said to express underlying class interests. My intention in this paper is not to dispute the ways in which race, understood as a sociological phenomenon, has been treated in the literature on Afrikaner nationalism. Rather, it is to consider the content and internal logic of racist ideology. The focus of this study is therefore on the conscious elaboration of race in the development of Christian-nationalist thought from around the 1930s to the 1950s. Specifically, it considers the extent to which an explicitly biological concept of race informed apartheid theory, and how this related to theological and cultural explanations of human difference. The argument in this paper is that Christian-nationalism was flexible and eclectic in its use of racist ideas. In constructing an intellectually coherent justification for apartheid, Afrikaner ideologues frequently chose to infer or to suggest biological theories of racial superiority, rather than to assert these openly. Both for pragmatic and doctrinal reasons, the diffuse language of cultural essentialism was preferred to the crude scientific racism drawn from the vocabulary of social Darwinism. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries African Studies Institute;ISS 123
dc.subject Racism. South Africa. History. 20th century en_US
dc.subject Afrikaners en_US
dc.subject Nationalism. South Africa. History. 20th century en_US
dc.subject Apartheid. South Africa. History. 20th century en_US
dc.title Afrikaner nationalism, apartheid, and the conceptualisation of "race" en_US
dc.type Working Paper en_US

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