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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


SUTTNER, Raymond. Periodisation, cultural construction and representation of ANC masculinities through dress, gesture and Indian Nationalist influence. Historia [online]. 2009, vol.54, n.1, pp.51-91. ISSN 2309-8392.

This article attempts to address the development of the ANC nationalist struggle and accompanying gender issues, especially concepts of manhood, through cultural factors, in particular dress. It argues that what is worn by people constitutes a historical archive distinct from the written and spoken word that can enrich our interpretation of historical periods and often adds complexity to the way we read these. In particular, the adoption of suits by early ANC delegations is argued to signify more than conforming to imperialist dictates and "begging", it means wearing the attire of the "ruling class". It revisits Chief Albert Luthuli and in his dress reads ambiguities in his stance towards potential militarisation. Likewise, the article considers the development of specific gestures, the use of the clenched fist in various ways, the development of the toyi-toyi as signifying different periods and meanings of the struggle, often having gender implications. Much that is advanced is not presented as an authoritative reinterpretation, but is intended to indicate the multiplicity of meanings that may be read into the same events or lives of people. This is a challenge to expand the range of sources which are drawn on for our historiography and related studies.

Keywords : ANC; cultures of liberation struggle; dress; gender; gestures; Indian; liberation struggle; masculinity; nationalist movements.

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