Libmonster ID: UK-1320
Author(s) of the publication: V. V. KRUCHINSKY

V. V. KRUCHINSKY, Post-Graduate Student, Institute of Africa, Russian Academy Of Sciences

Keywords: South Africa, Afrikaners, white poverty, sociology, post-apartheid transformation

Recent trends in the international academic community suggest that, after a relatively short break, researchers have once again returned to the systematic development of the problems facing the Afrikaans community of South Africa today.

In 2012, the authoritative journal African Studies, published by the British publishing house Routledge, published a thematic section Afrikaners After Apartheid, compiled following the results of the conference of the same name at the University of Stellenbosch 3.

Last year, as part of the European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) held in Lisbon, a kind of "sub-conference" dedicated to research on the problems of "whiteness" was held, where speeches on Afrikaners played a prominent role, and a special issue of the journal Africa (Cambridge University Press) is currently being prepared for publication. University) - The Politics of Whiteness in Africa.

The situation of Afrikaners in today's South Africa is not only reflected on in the pages and round tables of the above-mentioned journals and conferences: recently, three notable papers have been published that offer three different focuses for considering this topic. We will devote this review to them, starting with the works of popular and popular science directions and ending with an academic dissertation.

1. "Rigtingbedonnerd" ("At the crossroads". Cape Town, Tafelberg. 2012, 582 p.) - a book by the Dutch journalist Fred de Vries, former editor of the Africa section in the newspaper De Volkskrant-an extensive "portrait" of Afrikaners, an attempt to give the reader the widest possible idea of the current situation of this people. This "portrait" is realized in the form of a collection of essays, reports and interviews with representatives of the broadest Afrikaner strata, which de Vries at various times published in periodicals.

The vastness of the author's idea suggests a certain popularity of the presentation of the material: Rigtingbedonnerd is obviously not a scientific publication, but rather a journalistic publication, designed, however, in the spirit of sympathy and sincere interest in the strange "white tribe".

The book opens with brief and popular descriptions of key episodes of Afrikaner history : the Battle of the Blood River (the victory over the Zulu forces on December 16, 1838 was a key event in Afrikaner "mythology"), the Boer War (1899-1902), apartheid, and the Angolan War (the peak of South African participation in the war that began in 1966 and formally ended in 1989 (occurred in the second half of the 1970s). Suggested in the author's pen-


* Afrikaners are one of the ethnic groups of the Republic of South Africa. According to the 2011 census, their number is more than 2.7 million people (about 6% of the total population of the country).1. They speak Afrikaans - the youngest language on the planet [received state status in 1925.Today, Afrikaans is the native language of nearly 7 million people in South Africa. 2

page 72

In short, these stories set the tone for further immersion in the world of today's Afrikaners, where Toyota pickups and fried meat are juxtaposed with the prose of Antjie Kroog and the edgy comics of Anton Kannemeer and Konrad Botts.

Sections of the book (devoted to history, economics, culture, language, and religion) are interspersed with short sketches from the author's private experience and everyday events, both pleasant and not. Such a narrative rhythm, in which general questions alternate with particular experiences, in our opinion, best suits the author's idea - to show that, despite the deep "zamifologizirovannost", Afrikaners are, in fact, ordinary people who are inherent in "universal" aspirations and values.

De Vries is considered an expert on the current South African music and literature scene, and his Rigtingbedonnerd can also be seen as a guide to Afrikaner popular culture (in fact, Afrikaans as a language of living and developing culture is probably the main "hidden theme" of this book).

In addition to interviews with the already mentioned Kroch and Kannemeer, representatives of the" progressive flank "of Afrikaner culture, De Vries' book contains descriptions of activities and interviews with singer and public figure Steve Hofmeyr and other" pillars " shaping the Afrikaner social agenda.

Of particular interest is de Vries ' report from the odious Afrikaner "enclave" of Orania4, which the author compares to the "Truman Show" 5, unfolding under a glass hood, as well as a part dedicated to poor white settlements in the province of Gauteng.

In general, Rigtingbedonnerd does not offer any "discoveries", and, apparently, does not seek to do so-rather, this book should be considered as an entertaining guide to the most notable phenomena of the Afrikaner world, which can be recommended to the widest reader. Unfortunately, De Vries ' book is currently only available in Afrikaans and Dutch, 6 and we can only hope that it will soon be published in English as well.

2. "Poor White". Cape Town, Tafelberg. 2012. 224 p.) 7 Edward-John Bottomley-the study is much more rigidly structured. As the title suggests, the book focuses on one of the most interesting issues in South African history - white poverty: its history, causes, and reactions to this phenomenon by secular and religious authorities and colonial administrations. Postcolonial optics, as well as a focus on the study of "whiteness", make Bottomley's work very timely, and the good rhythm of the text is also a pleasant reading.

Chronologically, Bottomley's research spans more than a hundred years - from the first whites to appear in Johannesburg and the actual "discovery" of white poverty in South Africa in the 1870s to the present day.

The author pays special attention to the reaction of the colonial and apartheid authorities to this phenomenon. Such an emphasis is more than justified, given that it is the attempts of the ruling classes to "save" and "correct" the white poor at all costs that have led to the fact that white poverty in South Africa has become a separate phenomenon.

A detailed review of the numerous commissions (including the famous Carnegie Commission 8) that were convened in different years to address the "white poverty issue", as well as the ideological context of their activities, allows us to look at the phenomenon under consideration by Bottomley from a new perspective.

Poor White specifically and in sufficient detail traces the evolution of attitudes towards poor whites; this evolution is especially interesting in the 1920s, when the fear of the colonial administration before the blurring of the social body of the "master", mixed up in the popular culture in salons and intellectual clubs

page 73

in the first quarter of the twentieth century, eugenics was incorporated by the young Afrikaner nationalism. Tellingly, despite some cosmetic changes, such as the status of the white poor in the apartheid concepts of "people's capitalism" (volkskapitalisme) and subsequently "good whitism", the white poor in South Africa never gained a voice of their own. Throughout the country's history, the ruling classes formulated phantom calls for help for them, which they themselves were in a hurry to satisfy.

Bottomley's research is well-founded - the author works with extensive historiographical material, and his geographical background makes it particularly fascinating to read sections of the book devoted to the historical dynamics of informal geography in Johannesburg. In our opinion, "Poor White" is one of the most interesting recent works not only about the Afrikaner community, but also about the history of South Africa as a whole.

3. To conclude our review, we turn to another important study of post - apartheid South Africa - "Afrikaner, Nevertheless" (Afrikaner, nevertheless. Amsterdam, Universiteit van Amsterdam. 2013, 322 p.) by Jacob Bursema.

This is a doctoral dissertation defended last year at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Amsterdam. In our opinion, Bursema's work can be considered as a full-fledged monograph that sheds light on a number of topical issues faced by the Afrikaner community of modern South Africa.

The subtitle of Bursema's research is " stigma, shame, and the sociology of cultural trauma." Drawing on extensive sociological tools, Bursema examines mainly the experience of a generation that grew up in post-apartheid South Africa. Working with the optics of the sociology of emotions, Bursema reveals a number of important points necessary for understanding the transformation of not only the Afrikaner community, but also South African society as a whole.

Afrikaner, Nevertheless aims to answer the following questions:: what is the burden of apartheid? Is apartheid relevant in principle in an attempt to analyze the situation of Afrikaners today? Are Afrikaners today a privileged community or victims of cultural trauma? How do demands for cultural change relate to attempts to protect economic privilege?

Some chapters of the work are devoted to the experiences of Afrikaner men, women and youth (based on the author's field work in South Africa), while others are devoted to broader institutional transformation, including the history of the Solidarity trade union (formerly the Mine Workers Union, MWU).

The text of the study is filled with extremely finely formulated and rigidly constructed microfocusings: based on extensive fieldwork, the author examines issues of urban spatiality (in the part devoted to the experiences of Afrikaner women living in bourgeois "gated communities" and in working-class neighborhoods of Pretoria), issues of desegregation, privilege and feelings of historical shame (in the part devoted to the experience of Afrikaner women living in bourgeois "gated communities" and in working-class neighborhoods of Pretoria). dedicated to the experiences of students from a school in Cape Town).

It should be noted that, according to Bursema, focusing on particular stories told outside the context of a broad transformation, as well as focusing on a purely institutional level, cannot give a complete picture of what is happening, and one of the main methodological tasks facing researchers of the current situation of Afrikaners is to maintain balance, work at the meso-level. This "middle" level makes it possible to clarify and interpret a number of important agendas and conclusions that would remain undisclosed if the researcher is not ready to leave the generalizing field of political history, or on the contrary, to "rise" somewhat above the level of analyzing the private experiences of individuals or communities.

In our opinion, the author managed to maintain this balance: using a whole arsenal of sociological techniques, Bursema successfully outlines both the general plan for the institutional transformation of the Afrikaner community and the private experiences of" ordinary people", who until recently were excluded from conversations about Afrikaner people.

His research, even though it is not currently published as a "full-fledged" monograph, deserves the closest attention of both specialists in South Africa and those simply interested in the current state of affairs in this country.


1 Statistics South Africa. Census in Brief. 2011 http://www.statssa.gov.za/Census2011/Products/Census_2011_Census _in_brief.pdf

2 Ibidem.

3 African Studies, 71 (3). London, Routledge, 2012.

4 Orania is a small town in the Northern Cape province, established in 1990. Located on private land, this town was conceived as a place where Afrikaners can reproduce their culture and traditions outside of contact with the "rest" of South Africa. Orania is known for its loud autonomist rhetoric, but in reality, after 24 years, it has become more like a real estate project, whose main clients are retiring affluent and nationalistic Afrikaners.

5 "The Truman Show" is a dystopian film by Peter Weir, which tells the story of a man whose whole life takes place in a specially designed town-scenery and is broadcast around the clock on television.

6 The book was first published in Dutch under the title "Afrikaners: A Drifting People "(De Vries F. Afrikaners: Een Volk Oop Drift. Amsterdam, Nijgh & van Ditmar, 2012, 368 p.).

Dutch (het Nederlands) is often called Dutch, but Dutch (het Hollands) is only one of its dialects. author's note).

7 The book is also published in Afrikaans (Bottom-ley E. J. Armblanks. Cape Town, Tafelberg, 2012, 224 p.).

8 The Carnegie Commission for the Study of White Poverty in South Africa is a large-scale study carried out by the Carnegie Endowment in the early 1930s, and its results were later used by the country's authorities to justify racial segregation policies.


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