Building a White Nation
Propaganda, Photography, and the Apartheid Regime Between the Late 1940s and the Mid-1970s
A unique study of South African propaganda photography during apartheid.
Throughout the apartheid era, South Africa maintained a wide-reaching propaganda apparatus. At its core was the information service that strongly capitalised on photography to visually articulate the minority regime’s racist political messages, promote Afrikaner nationalism, and consolidate White rule. By unearthing a substantial corpus of photographs that so far have been hidden in archives, this book offers a distinctive perspective on the institutional context of the regime’s photographic production and how it was tightly linked to the objective to build a White nation. Through scrutiny of the photographic material’s iconographies, its circulation in printed matters, and a comparison with works by photographers like Margaret Bourke-White, Ernest Cole, and David Goldblatt, readers gain fresh insight into the country’s visual culture of the period. Based on the ambiguity of photographs, the monograph challenges the alleged dichotomy between so-called pro- and anti-apartheid photographies, highlighting how the regime was able to position photographs in the grey area of inconspicuousness.
By blending photo theory and art historical analysis with historical studies, Building a White Nation will appeal to scholars and postgraduate students in cultural studies interested in photo history and theory, visual culture and art history, African studies, South African photography, Afrikaner nationalism, propaganda studies, postcolonial studies, and archive theory.
Ebook available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).
NOTES ON TERMINOLOGY AND FIGURES
White Nation-building and the Myths of Afrikaner Nationalism
Propaganda and Photography
Researching Propaganda Photography and the State of the Archives
I. SOUTH AFRICA’S INFORMATION SERVICE
I.1. The Information Service and Photography
I.3. Actors in the Propaganda Machinery
II. CELEBRATING THE WHITE NATION
II.1. The Inauguration of the Voortrekker Monument, 1949
II.2. ‘We Build a Nation’: The Jan van Riebeeck Festival, 1952
III. H. F. VERWOERD: ‘MASTER-BUILDER’ OF THE WHITE NATION
III.1. From Minister of Native Affairs to Prime Minister
III.2. The Pivotal Year 1960
III.3. The Verwoerd Couple
III.5. Pictorial Afterlife
IV. PROPAGATING SEPARATE DEVELOPMENT
IV.1. Bantu Education
IV.2. The Health Care System
IV.3. Ernest Cole’s House of Bondage, 1967
V. PERFORMING THE STATE
V.1. The Annual Openings of Parliament
V.2. The Transkei Independence Celebrations, 1976
VI. THE HENDRIK VERWOERD DAM
VI.1. Symbol of Modernity and National Pride
VI.2. The Dam in the Regime’s Visual Network
Periodicals and Newspapers
Email Communication and Interviews
Format: Monograph - free ebook - PDF
18 pp. in colour
Publication: December 12, 2023
This book makes a distinctive contribution to the literature on photography and propaganda, African and specifically apartheid visual cultures, and ideas of nation and whiteness. It provides a detailed and multifaceted case study of the information service through from the founding of the apartheid regime through until the mid-1970s. In a context where there is a deepening of photo-historical research on African photographies, by state and non-state actors, this study fits well with current work in the field.
Darren Newbury, The University of Brighton
This is an important piece of research on a topic that has, ironically, been neglected in recent histories of South African photography. The author’s engagement with the topic brings a sense of complexity to a series of influencing factors that could otherwise have been very simplistically treated. Instead, the author has sought to bring a sense of complexity to an argument about the intersection of photography, propaganda, and apartheid state making. Rory Bester, University of the Western Cape