Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Natal's Black Rape Scare of the 1870s

Norman Etherington
Journal of Southern African Studies
Vol. 15, No. 1 (Oct., 1988), pp. 36-53
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2636447
Page Count: 18
  • Download ($45.00)
  • Cite this Item
Natal's Black Rape Scare of the 1870s
Preview not available

Abstract

For about four years at the end of the 1860s the white population of Natal was gripped by fear of black rape. The fear does not appear to have been engendered by any specific event, nor did it result in a marked increase of prosecutions for rape in the colonial courts. It ended as abruptly and mysteriously as it had begun. Stanley Cohen's theory of `moral panics' does not offer a particularly appropriate explanation for this rape scare, but it does suggest fruitful lines of investigation by pointing to the relation between anxiety and the desire of the dominant classes in any society to maintain control. The hypothesis advanced in this case study is that fear of losing control was a constant undercurrent in the thinking of the settler minority. This substratum of anxiety rose to the surface in the form of a moral panic whenever disturbances in the economy or the body politic were severe enough to unsettle the mask of composure worn by the face of public authority. In a patriarchal society where women were part and parcel of property to be defended against threats from below, fear of rape was a special concern of white males. For that reason the study of colonial rape scares differ markedly from studies of rape pure and simple. Unravelling the complicated web of male concerns about gender, property and politics is a difficult business at any time, but some progress can be made by studies of this kind which focus on societies which believe they face a fundamental assault upon their domestic arrangements.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[36]
    [36]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
37
    37
  • Thumbnail: Page 
38
    38
  • Thumbnail: Page 
39
    39
  • Thumbnail: Page 
40
    40
  • Thumbnail: Page 
41
    41
  • Thumbnail: Page 
42
    42
  • Thumbnail: Page 
43
    43
  • Thumbnail: Page 
44
    44
  • Thumbnail: Page 
45
    45
  • Thumbnail: Page 
46
    46
  • Thumbnail: Page 
47
    47
  • Thumbnail: Page 
48
    48
  • Thumbnail: Page 
49
    49
  • Thumbnail: Page 
50
    50
  • Thumbnail: Page 
51
    51
  • Thumbnail: Page 
52
    52
  • Thumbnail: Page 
53
    53