A ware Afrikaner : an examination of the role of Eugene Marais (1871-1936) in the making of Afrikaner identity
This thesis investigates the creation of Afrikaner identity, more particularly the role of an individual in the shaping of public consciousness, in order to help comprehend how 'Afrikaner' identity was propagated. The focus is on Eugene Marais's career from 1890 to 1936, a period in which the Afrikaner language was standardised and changing socio-economic forces produced the conditions under which class and regional fragmentation yielded to pan-South African Afrikaner identity. This thesis does not retell the story of Marais's life. Neither does it give an overview of the rise of Afrikaner nationalism. Instead, it lies between these two poles. Marais represents two important foci of research: those who assisted in the self-conscious construction of Afhkanerdom and those who came to be seen as ware Afrikaners (true Afrikaners) and volkshelde (heroes of the people). This thesis tells a story woven from two contrapuntal narratives. The first speaks of an individual's life and work, the second, of a wider context of culture-brokers and the process of creating ethnic consciousness. The initial two chapters trace the workings of Afrikaner identity from the pre-South African War interaction between politics and those coming increasingly to define themselves as Afrikaners, to the interplay of ethnicity and language within the divided cultural elite. The discussion then turns to the use of popular science by this elite, in the making and propagation of an Afrikaner identity. The following two chapters consider the interaction of the Afrikaner with other groups, exploring cultural osmosis between ethnic communities and the image of another race in Afrikaans literature. Finally, the myth-making of the Afrikaner, particularly the creation of a volksheld, is considered, to examine the interplay of ethnicity, politics and memory.