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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'High Horses'-Horses, Class and Socio-Economic Change in South Africa
Author:Swart, SandraISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
social classes
Development and Technology
Economics and Trade
Ethnic and Race Relations
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070701832981
Abstract:This article examines an aspect of the growth of an Afrikaner bourgeoisie in rural South Africa through the 'things' they desired. It discusses the introduction in the late 1940s of the American Saddlebred (show) horse from the USA, to the agrarian sectors of the then Cape Province and Orange Free State. Analysis of breed discourse gives insights into the role of status symbols, the socioeconomic context of their acquisition, and the cultural impetus for their rise in popularity and wide geographic diffusion in rapidly upwardly-mobile, predominately Afrikaans-speaking rural communities. In addition to the material context, the article analyses the elite rhetorical space the American Saddle horse inhabited, by contrasting it with the self-consciously egalitarian and ethnically unifying discourse surrounding another horse used by primarily Afrikaans-speakers, the Boerperd. Past historiography on the culture of national identity has largely focused on the ways in which shared understanding of 'history' was mobilized to produce group identity, but identity could also be predicated in part on the embrace of 'modernity' and consumerism. The comparison between the supporters of American Saddlers and Boerperde, both factions within the (largely male) Afrikaans-speaking society, and an analysis of their quite different discourses reflect two ways of conceptualizing identity, especially in the way they mobilized consumer hunger. The Saddle horse discourse reflects the development of a new class, with manifestations of fresh desires and a need to demarcate class boundaries. It reflects a way of thinking about self-identity that is not the traditional view of Afrikaner identity politics: a confident, internationalist, pro-American, elite - above all, embracing of 'modernity', the future, and not invested in the past. Instead of 'Afrikanerising' the American horse, it became more prestigious to maintain a foreign link. Antithetically, the Boerperd discourse offered a demotic weltanschauung, and the Boerperd breeders contested the notion of a horse as an effete relic of a higher class, revelling instead in nativist history, classlessness, usefulness, and autochthony. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]