'Stories That Find their Place': Retelling the Protest at Brandfort, 1901-1949

'Stories That Find their Place': Retelling the Protest at Brandfort, 1901-1949

Author: 
Dampier, Helen Catherine
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2017
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
South African Historical Journal
Source: 
South African Historical Journal, Vol. 69, Issue 3, September 2017, pp. 361-376
Abstract: 

This paper concerns eight women's testimonies produced over a period of some 50 years, which describe a protest about meat rations at Brandfort concentration camp in November 1901, during the 1899-1902 South African War. The focus here is not the 'event itself', which cannot now be recovered except in its archival or documentary forms, but on the subsequent re/telling of this incident, and on the politicised, (proto-) nationalist content and tone of the Brandfort protest testimonies. While proto-nationalism is present from the earliest extant testimony, the development of this is traced over time, showing how the later testimonies evince a strongly triumphalist nationalist tone. The retrospectively inscribed testimonies of the protest are examined to show how, over time, the story of the Brandfort protest became universalised, retold well away from specificities of time and place. If nationalism depends on the creation of 'stories that find their place', then it was partly through the construction and repetition of what Van Heyningen has called 'costly mythologies' about women's concentration camp experiences that Afrikaner national unity was achieved. This also supports Bradford's important claim that the 1899-1902 war regendered Afrikaner nationalism.

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CITATION: Dampier, Helen Catherine. 'Stories That Find their Place': Retelling the Protest at Brandfort, 1901-1949 . : Taylor & Francis Group , 2017. South African Historical Journal, Vol. 69, Issue 3, September 2017, pp. 361-376 - Available at: http://library.au.int/stories-find-their-place-retelling-protest-brandfort-1901-1949