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Title:'No less a foe than Satan himself': the devil, transition and moral panic in white South Africa, 1989-1993
Authors:Dunbar, Danielle
Swart, SandraISNI
Year:2012
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1465-3893)
Volume:38
Issue:3
Pages:601-621
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:social disorganization
political change
Whites
cults
1980-1989
1990-1999
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070.2012.719688
Abstract:There are moments in history where the imagined threat of satanism and the devil have been engendered by, and exacerbated, widespread social anxiety. This article looks at particular moments in which the 'satanic peril' emerged in the white South African imagination as moments of moral panic during which social boundaries were sharpened, patrolled, disputed, and renegotiated through public debate. Between 1989 and 1993, white politicians warned against the unholy trinity of 'drugs, satanism and communism', while white newspapers reported rumours of midnight orgies and the ritual consumption of baby flesh by secret satanic covens. From the bizarre to the macabre, the message became one of societal decay and a vulnerable youth. Moral panics betray a host of anxieties in the society, or segment of a society, in which they erupt. This article argues that the moral panic between 1989 and 1993, and the emergence of the 'satanic peril', betrays contextually specific anxieties surrounding the loss of power and shifts in class and cultural solidarity as white South Africa's social and geographic borders were transformed. The authors seek to elucidate the cultural changes in white South Africa during this period by illuminating the social, temporal and geographic boundaries that were disputed and renegotiated through the heightened and shifting discourse on satanism. With context provided by the satanic panics of the late 1970s in South Africa, and the transnational satanism scare of the 1980s, this article concentrates on South Africa's most virulent satanic panic, which occurred between 1989 and 1993. As this article shows, while the decade of the 1980s was marked by successive states of emergency and the deterioration of the edifice of apartheid, it began and ended with widespread alarm that Satan was making a bid for the control of white South Africa. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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