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On-line version ISSN 2309-9585
Print version ISSN 0259-0190


DUBOW, Saul. Racial irredentism, ethnogenesis, and white supremacy in high-apartheid South Africa. Kronos [online]. 2015, vol.41, n.1, pp.236-264. ISSN 2309-9585.

During the period of high apartheid - the 1960s and early 1970s - there was a resurgence of scientific racism in small but concentrated intellectual circles with strong transnational links to Britain and the United States. This resurgence was closely tied to the efforts of J.D.J. Hofmeyr, an eminent but little-known plant geneticist based at Pretoria University, to establish 'anthropogenetics' as a dimension of human genetics. Using networks associated with the radical right-wing journal The Mankind Quarterly, Hofmeyr and his associates sought to argue that biological superiority and inferiority was natural and ineradicable. They also argued in favour the biological basis of culture, encouraging the view that apartheid's Bantustans were the natural fulfilment of underlying cultural and ethnic differences. This idea was picked up and developed in the thinking of leading volkekundiges like P.J. Coertze. A range of intellectuals and activists, some on the margins of academia, others with permanent positions, mobilised these ideas in an attempt to justify apartheid and to position support for apartheid South Africa, along with Rhodesia, as part of a broader defence of white supremacy. The term 'racial irredentism' is used to signal how the new scientific racists sought to recover and reconfigure the intellectual territory of prewar scientific racism.

Keywords : South Africa; racism; racial science; apartheid; white supremacy; Afrikaner nationalism; Mankind Quarterly; volkekunde; Bantustan.

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