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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Bread and Honour: White Working Class Women and Afrikaner Nationalism in the 1930s
Author:Vincent, Louise D.ISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
industrial workers
trade unions
clothing industry
Women's Issues
Labor and Employment
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Cultural Roles
Education and Training
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/2637550
Abstract:The transition to industrial capitalism in South Africa saw changes in the economic role of women. For many poor white rural Afrikaner women urban employment was necessitated by commercialization of agriculture. A key area in which they found employment was the clothing industry. In the 1930s, the Garment Workers' Union of the Transvaal (GWU), with a membership of predominantly Afrikaner women, attempted to provide both material and ideological support for a working class identity. However, the union was not the only contender for the hearts and minds of urban working class Afrikaner women. The terrain upon which this battle was fought was Afrikaner nationalism's gender ideology encapsulated in the notion of the 'volksmoeder' (mother of the nation). In the context of the growing concern in Afrikaner nationalism with poor whiteism, the emphasis on the individual family shifted to the role which women could play in uplifting the nation's poor. Leading Afrikaner women in the GWU were at pains to show how the positive characteristics associated with the 'volksmoeder' image were just as applicable to their lives as factory workers. The incorporation of Afrikaner women into the socialist milieu of the GWU did not result in these women discarding the ethnic components of their identity. Their new self-awareness contributed to the process whereby Afrikaner nationalism achieved success as a movement appealing to its imagined community across boundaries of class and gender. Garment workers played an active role in achieving recognition for working class women as members of the 'volk'. This culminated in participation of GWU leaders in the 1938 Great Trek centenary celebration. Notes, ref., sum.