Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Masculinities, Militarisation, and the End Conscription Campaign: War Resistance in Apartheid South Africa

Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Masculinities, Militarisation, and the End Conscription Campaign: War Resistance in Apartheid South Africa

Article excerpt

Masculinities, Militarisation, and the End Conscription Campaign: War Resistance in Apartheid South Africa. By Daniel Conway. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2012. Pp. x, 176; abbreviations, bibliography, index. $100.00.

The End Conscription Campaign has not featured prominently in the post-1994 narrative of apartheid South Africa. Though it was one of the largest "white" civil society groups to contest the apartheid state (and the only one to be officially banned, in 1988), the ECC's role in the anti-apartheid movement has not been celebrated or analyzed in any meaningful way. Something about the ECC resists easy categorization, and the movement has therefore been relegated to the margins of South Africa's recent history.

In Masculinities, Militarisation and the End Conscription Campaign, Daniel Conway argues that the confusion surrounding the campaign was, in fact, central to its logic. Drawing on extensive archival research and original interviews with ECC activists, Conway contrasts the apartheid state's militarization efforts to those of white objectors who refused compulsory military service. The state, Conway argues, engaged in a performance of masculinity and heteronormativity that tied together state security and individual gendered responsibility. The apartheid state did its best to erase ambiguity and classify its populace according to simple binary oppositions. Good citizenship for white South African males meant becoming a straight man and a soldier. For white South African women it meant mothering a soldier and supporting him through the performance of stereotypically female roles. These roles, as Conway argues, were not predetermined. At an earlier point in time, for example, Afrikaner nationalism dictated that "real" men refused to sign up as soldiers of the (British) state. …

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