'You were men in war time' - The manipulation of gender identity in war and peace

Sandra S. Swart


The story of the Rebellion begins where many stories end, with the Treaty of Vereeniging. Twelve years after the end of the South African War, a handful of men in the rural backwaters of the south-western Transvaal and north-eastern Free State tried to overthrow the young South African state. The rebel leaders mobilised their followers with the rhetoric of Republican nostalgia, using the seductively refashioned images of the Republican struggle in the South African War to foster rebellion. In the first decades of the twentieth century, Boer masculine identity was based, in part; on a Republican idea1. This article focuses on this facet of Boer identity, which was inextricably bound up in a sense of Republicanism forged in the South African war and fostered by the rebel leaders. It also shows how the memories of a war can metonymically capture a sense of gendered national identity and its manipulation can contribute to a movement as powerful as a rebellion against the state.


The manipulation of gender identity in war and peace; Treaty of Vereeniging; Boer masculine identity; Rebellion; Republican struggle in the South African War; Republicanism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5787/28-2-210


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Copyright (c) 2018 Sandra S. Swart

ISSN 2224-0020 (online); ISSN 1022-8136 (print)

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