Vol. 29 Issue 3/4 - 2006
Rhetoric and anthropology
Abstract This essay deals with the relationship between rhetoric and anthropology, along three main lines of argument. The author offers reflections on the relationship between the two fields, highlighting contentious intersections, as in the case of the French anthropological tradition. He proposes to weigh the rhetorical definition of ‘figure’ or ‘trope’, and to revisit these rhetorical concepts. He then turns to a case of social performance, that of perpetrators of human rights abuses in South Africa, in an attempt to show how rhetoric engages with a seemingly non-rhetorical, social practice.
Subjects: anthropologie, figure, performance, perpetrator, reconciliation, rhetoric, ritual, trope
Exclusivity, hybridity and community: negotiating place, ethnicity and South African realities
Michael de Jongh
Abstract Living on a tract of land in the Soutpansberg allocated to them in 1888 by President Paul Kruger for ‘services rendered’ to the erstwhile Transvaal Republic (Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek), is the hybrid and largely exclusive Buys community. As descendants of Jean du Bois, a French Huguenot, but more significantly of his great-grandson Coenraad de Buys who married, or cohabited with, several indigenous women, these people have prevailed for generations and carved a singular niche for themselves in the South African political and sociocultural landscape.
This article considers the processes and influences that have shaped the Buys phenomenon over years, but more pertinently the Buyses strategy of both identity politics and politics of identity are examined. Using the specificity of this case study, ethnicity is ‘unpacked’ and the particular ways that space and place are articulated receive analytical attention.
Subjects: Ethnicity, hybridity, identity, space, place, Buysdorp, community
Community, family and intimate relationships: an exploration of domestic violence in Griquatown, South Africa
Abstract This paper explores domestic violence in the rural location of Griquatown, South Africa. Although academics have long recognised that structural and cultural factors influence people's experience of domestic violence, not much has been written about the manner in which this happens. This paper explores how personal relationships intersect with broader cultural and structural forces and, in so doing, shape people's experience of domestic violence. This paper focuses on the life of one individual in order to demonstrate the multi-faceted context in which domestic violence takes shape. By bringing together individual choices, self-representation, personal relations, ethnic identity and societal demands, this paper illustrates how domestic violence is contingent upon, or mitigated by, broader societal processes that impinge on or moderate the behaviour of individuals and their spouses. It argues that domestic violence is an on-going process which results at the intersection between men's and women's personal quests to establish autonomy and collective processes that encourage conformity to ‘ideal’ ethnic categories and gendered social roles.
Subjects: Gender relations, domestic violence, Griqua ethnic identity, self-representation, autonomy
Partial truths: representations of teenage pregnancy in research
Abstract In this article the author identifies three schools of research on teenage pregnancy that were dominant from the 1980s to 2003 in South Africa. By providing a comparison with some of the research in the United States and in England, the author draws attention to the similarity in the representations of teenage pregnancy in South Africa and in the latter countries. The strengths and weaknesses of each research school are discussed. The author then provides an alternative representation of teenage pregnancy substantiated by reference to her own research in the township of Khwezi East, South Africa.
Subjects: teenage pregnancy, representation, research schools, South Africa
Exercise in futility or dawn of Afrikaner self-determination: an exploratory ethno-historical investigation of Orania
FC de Beer
Abstract Due to their ethnic diversity nation states have the arduous task of accommodating various identity conscious groups within their boundaries. Nation-building programmes and strategies are employed mostly to unite the heterogeneous populations of nation states, as is currently also being done by the ANC Government in South Africa. In 1991, three years before the ANC came to power, a group of Afrikaners who wished to maintain their identity and culture purchased a town from the Department of Water Affairs next to the Orange River in the Northern Cape Province with the purpose of establishing self-determination in an own territory and ultimately a volkstaat. In this article the antecedents of the Orania Afrikaner settlement, their ethnic identity, management structure, political affiliations, daily life and quality of life, the viability of the settlement as well as views of fellow Afrikaners in South Africa about its establishment, are reflected upon. In the process due consideration is given to the viability and sustainability of the Orania undertaking and whether or not it constitutes the dawn of Afrikaner self-determination that will ultimately fulfil the freedom ideals of identity conscious Afrikaners. The study is also contextualised within the current theoretical tenants of ethnicity and the methodology of anthropology.
Subjects: Orania, ethnicity, Afrikaner history and identity, self-determination, volkstaat, Orania Bestuursdienste, nativism, cultural adjustment movement
The world ‘topsy-turvy’ and the ancient Near Eastern cultures: a few example
Paul A. Kruger
Abstract This paper considers socio-political examples of the universal cultural phenomenon of symbolic inversion (mundus inversus), the earliest instances of which can be traced back to the cultures of the ancient Near East. Symbolic inversion refers to manifestations of expressive behaviour where everything is inverted in relation to the normal state of affairs. Two spheres in the ancient Near Eastern world where this cultural theme is especially prominent are in the conception of the ‘other’ (other ethnic groups) and in the sphere of social criticism, where a given status quo is attacked and alternative structures are propagated.
Subjects: ancient Near East, symbolic inversion/mundus inversus, otherness, social criticism, utopianism
The ‘picaninny wage’. An historical overview of the persistence of structural inequality and child labour in South Africa
Abstract This paper considers the recruitment of children and youths in colonial and post colonial South Africa. It explores the early legislation that transformed the nature of childhood in pre-colonial South Africa, and contributes to emerging scholarship on social constructions of childhood. The paper draws attention to historical shifts and continuities in the nature of child labour, and in relation to economic exploitation, racial oppression and childhood agency. Spanning the eras of pre-colonial relations of production, child slavery in the 1600s, and children's work under colonial rule in the mining, domestic service, and agricultural industries, this paper considers the differential configurations of the labour demands of children. Working against the tendency to regard child labour as a sentimental human rights issue, this paper provides a critical perspective against which to focus on contemporary debates about the rights of children in post-apartheid South Africa, and redress the participation of children in processes of total social reproduction.
Subjects: child labour history, South Africa, social construction of childhood
‘Qualified to work’: Anthropological insights into employee empowerment
Abstract Drawing on research conducted in a life insurance company, this paper looks at qualities and behaviour of a group of black financial consultants in terms of the notion of empowerment. It attempts to show that empowerment, in the sense of creating conditions where people can achieve their aims, is an ongoing process, consisting of dimensions grounded in particular empowering agencies, institutions and practices, which in this discussion are described and placed in the context of aspects of South African society as well as the company concerned.
Subjects: financial consultants, empowerment, previously disadvantaged people, life assurance industry, emerging market
The indigenous contract as legal phenomenon
FP van R Whelpton
Abstract Drawing largely on the views of various theorists, this article seeks to discuss the indigenous contract as legal phenomenon with specific reference to underlying values and legal principles of indigenous contracts in the southern African context. It shows that indigenous contracts are not only based on mere agreement, but on agreement plus performance or part performance, and that a contract is more just than a device for establishing the economic and legal implications of a transaction. Although reasonable expectations are fulfilled, contractual justness lies mainly in justifiable justice. Most contractual disputes are resolved outside legal institutions and for this purpose negotiated settlements and mediators are used.
Subjects: agreements, performance or part performance, contractual justness, negotiation and mediation