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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The valorisation of symbolic labour: the articulation of proper womanhood in post-apartheid Potchefstroom
Author:Bombardella, Pia
Periodical:Anthropology Southern Africa (ISSN 2332-3264)
Geographic term:South Africa
elderly women
women's organizations
Abstract:This article focusses on the construction of womanhood by members of the Potchefstroom 'Huisvlyt' Society: a voluntary organization of elderly, white, middle-class, Afrikaans-speaking women aiming to provide adult women with education in child rearing, cooking, sewing and other handiwork. It shows how members, by crafting home-made hand-made objects, performed symbolic labour. The objects they produced were complex gift/commodity amalgams, neither pure gift, nor pure commodity. Making them enabled members to perform proper womanhood, transact in proper ways, and establish and maintain particular and valued social relationships through gift exchange. Through making and exchanging these objects they articulated a model of proper womanhood based on the valuation of modesty, thrift, the valorisation of talents, and industriousness - 'positive Protestantism'. The institution of domestic labour in 'Western' households in South Africa served an important, although silent role in the members' ability to attain these normative values, since the fact of cheap domestic labour enabled the women to buy free time to pursue these activities. Their daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters, however, do not value Positive Protestantism as a model of proper womanhood, resulting in Huisvlyt members realizing that their cherished objects could become commodities or even worse, garbage. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]