The devil’s children : volk, devils and moral panics in white South Africa, 1976 - 1993

Dunbar, Danielle (2012-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: There are moments in history where the threat of Satanism and the Devil have been prompted by, and in turn stimulated, social anxiety. This thesis considers particular moments of ‘satanic panic’ in South Africa as moral panics during which social boundaries were challenged, patrolled and renegotiated through public debate in the media. While the decade of the 1980s was marked by successive states of emergency and the deterioration of apartheid, it began and ended with widespread alarm that Satan was making a bid for the control of white South Africa. Half-truths, rumour and fantasy mobilised by interest groups fuelled public uproar over the satanic menace – a threat deemed the enemy of white South Africa. Under P. W. Botha’s ‘total onslaught’ rhetoric, a large sector of white South Africa feared total ‘moral onslaught’. Cultural guardians warned against the satanic influences of popular culture, the corrupting power of materialism, and the weakening moral resolve of the youth. Others were adamant that Satanists sought to punish all good, white South Africans with financial ruin and divorce in their campaign to destroy white South Africa. From the bizarre to the macabre, the message became one of societal decay and a youth that was simultaneously out of control. While influenced by the international Satanism Scare that swept across the global West during the 1980s and early 1990s, this thesis argues that South Africa’s satanic panics reflected localised anxieties as the country’s social borders changed over time. While critically discussing the concept of the ‘moral panic’ and its analytical value in historical study, this thesis further argues that these moments of moral panic betray the contextually specific anxieties surrounding the loss of power and shifts in class and cultural solidarity. In so doing, this thesis seeks to elucidate the cultural changes in South Africa between 1976 and 1993 by highlighting the social, temporal and geographic boundaries which were contested and renegotiated through the shifting discourse on Satanism.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Daar is oomblikke in die geskiedenis toe die bedreiging van Satanisme en die Duiwel deur sosiale angstigheid aangespoor is en dit ook verder gestimuleer het. Hierdie tesis neem bepaalde momente van ‘sataniese paniek’ in Suid-Afrika – waartydens sosiale grense deur publieke debat in die media uitgedaag, gepatrolleer en heronderhandel is – in oënskou as oomblikke van morele paniek. Terwyl die 1980s gekenmerk is deur agtereenvolgende noodtoestande en die agteruitgang van apartheid, het dit begin en geëindig met wydverspreide verontrusting dat Satan poog om beheer oor wit Suid-Afrika te verkry. Halwe waarhede, gerugte en fantasie, gemobiliseer deur belangegroepe, het publieke onsteltenis oor die sataniese gevaar aangehits – = vyandige bedreiging vir wit Suid-Afrika. In samehang met PW Botha se ‘totale aanslag’ retoriek, het = groot deel van wit Suid-Afrika ook = ‘totale morele aanslag’ gevrees. Die kultuurbewakers het gewaarsku teen sataniese invloede op populêre kultuur, die sedebederwende mag van materialisme en die verflouing van morele vasberadenheid onder die jeug. Ander was oortuig daarvan dat Sataniste daarop uit is om alle goeie, wit Suid-Afrikaners deur finansiële ondergang en egskeiding te straf in hulle veldtog om wit Suid-Afrika te vernietig. Van die grillige tot die makaber, die boodskap was een van sosiale agteruitgang en = jeug wat terselfdertyd buite beheer was. Alhoewel Suid-Afrika beïnvloed is deur die heersende internasionale sataniese verskrikking wat gedurende die 1980s en die vroeë 1990s, dwarsdeur die globale Weste gevind is, voer hierdie tesis aan dat die Suid-Afrikaanse sataniese paniek, soos die sosiale grense in Suid-Afrika verskuif het, gelokaliseerde angs gereflekteer het. Buiten die kritiese bespreking van die konsep van die ‘morele paniek’ en die analitiese waarde daarvan, argumenteer hierdie tesis verder dat hierdie momente van morele paniek konteks-spesifieke angs blootlê, paniese angs wat met die verlies van mag en veranderings in klas- en kulturele samehorigheid saamhang. Hierdeur beoog die tesis om kulturele veranderinge in Suid-Afrika tussen 1976 en 1993 toe te lig, deur te fokus op die sosiale, temporale en geografiese grense wat deur die verskuiwende diskoers oor Satanisme betwis en heronderhandel is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20179
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