Home Institution

Occidental College

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Program Name

South Africa: Social and Political Transformation


In order to enforce apartheid at every level of South African society, the national party government required their white male security forces to share a uniform identity and ideology. This ideology relied on a hegemonic masculinity that would be willing to aggressively protect racism, patriarchy, and cultural conservatism. A whole generation of white men are now reckoning with living in an entirely new country, one where their white masculine identities are not able to be practiced in the same way as they were under an oppressive racist regime. This study will build on existing literature of masculinity in South Africa while contributing a unique perspective from a group that has been relatively understudied since the end of apartheid. A narrative research methodology will be utilized, requesting participants to reflect on their experiences while serving in the military and how these experiences have shaped their identities and social values. One on one interviews will prompt participants to anwer questions not only about their lives as apartheid enforcers but about their opinions on issues regarding gender, sexuality, and race, locating how they view themselves in relation to other groups. The author will seek to answer whether or not the hegemonic masculinity instilled by the apartheid machine has continued to dominate how white men view and perform their identities. This research is vital for a generation of white men to reassess their roles in a new South Africa, and to contemplate how the legacy of years of apartheid rule still have a grip on their lives today.


African History | African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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