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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:South African railways postcard calendars, 1961 to 1984
Author:Van Eeden, Jeanne
Periodical:South African Historical Journal (ISSN 1726-1686)
Geographic term:South Africa
rail transport
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/02582473.2014.891645
Abstract:This article focuses on a series of postcard calendars produced by the South African Railways (SAR) between 1961 and 1984. As a state-owned organisation, the SAR played a decisive role in conceptualising the metanarratives South Africa constructed of itself from 1910 onwards. This was achieved, for example, through an extensive visual archive of documentary photographs of South Africa, commissioned by the SAR. In addition to a range of 'publicity propaganda' material, from about the 1920s to 1984 the Publicity Department of the SAR intermittently produced postcards, calendars and postcard calendars as cheap and accessible promotional material. An analysis of the postcard calendars between 1961 and 1984 uncovers three thematic clusters: the natural world; the world of culture; and related to this, the world of technology, modernity and progress. In colonialist discourse, images of nature/'primitivism' were frequently offset by images that proclaimed the advantages of culture/modernity/technology, and this legacy manifests in the postcard calendars discussed in this article. The article suggests that the SAR had vested interests in how (white), middle-class South Africans imagined the country and how it was portrayed for international audiences. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]