By the stroke of a pen : an evaluation of the Cape Times and Die Burger’s portrayal of racial reclassification from 1980-1990

Chalmers, Brittany Inge (2022-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2022.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: During apartheid, South Africans were assigned one of four main racial categories: white, black, Indian, or coloured. Given the fluidities of race, “misassignment” was common, leading individuals to apply for a different government-imposed racial classification. In 1950, the racial canvas of South Africa gained definitive lines with the passing of the Population Registration Act. On paper, the racial fluidity that existed before was gone, but on the ground, classifications were in limbo. The Cape Times and Die Burger newspapers reveal the startling statistics, political agendas and emotive stories linked to the complex racial transitions that occurred by the stroke of a government pen.1 This dissertation evaluates how two major newspapers portrayed reclassification during a decade of severe media restrictions. By employing a method of qualitative coding, the discourse styles present in 50 newspaper articles are evaluated. The results reveal the significant comparisons between the Afrikaans Die Burger and the English Cape Times. Reclassification is used as a lens to assess the newspapers and their potential to affect the racial agenda of the day. The lived experiences of individuals affected by the country’s reclassification legislation are also analysed by means of a close reading. This microhistory approach uses the newspaper articles to highlight the stories of the reclassified and in doing so, incorporates them into a history of South Africa from below.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Tydens apartheid is Suid-Afrikaners in een van vier hoof ras-kategorieë ingedeel: wit, swart, Indiër of bruin. Gegewe die vloeibaarheid van ras, was “verkeerde toewysing” algemeen. Dit het daartoe gelei dat individue aansoek gedoen het om ʼn ander rasseklassifikasie as wat deur die regering opgelê is. In 1950 het die ras-landskap van Suid-Afrika definitiewe lyne gekry met die aanvaarding van die Wet op Bevolkingsregistrasie. Op papier was die rasvloeibaarheid wat voorheen bestaan het, weg, maar op die grond was klassifikasies in die weegskaal. Koerante soos die Cape Times en Die Burger onthul die verrassende statistieke, politieke agendas en emosionele verhale wat gekoppel was aan die ingewikkelde proses van ras-herklassifikasie wat deur ʼn staatspen getref is. Hierdie tesis evalueer hoe twee koerante herklassifikasie uitgebeeld het gedurende ʼn dekade van streng media beperkings. Deur ʼn metode van kwalitatiewe kodering word die diskoersstyle wat in 50 koerantartikels voorkom, geëvalueer. Die resultate toon die beduidende verskille tussen die Afrikaanse Die Burger en die Engelse Cape Times. Herklassifikasie word gebruik as ʼn lens om die koerante te evalueer en hul potensiaal om die ras-agenda van die dag te beïnvloed. Die ervarings van individue wat geraak word deur die land se herklassifikasie wetgewing, word ook deur middel van ʼn noukeurige analise ontleed. Hierdie mikro-geskiedenis benadering gebruik die koerantartikels om die verhale van die geherklassifiseerde individue te beklemtoon en sluit dit sodoende in ʼn nuwe geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika “van onder” in.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/124966
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