George Webb Hardy's The Black Peril and the social meaning of 'Black Peril' in early Twentieth-Century South Africa

Cornwell, D.G.N. (1996) George Webb Hardy's The Black Peril and the social meaning of 'Black Peril' in early Twentieth-Century South Africa. Journal of Southern African Studies, 22 (3). pp. 441-453. ISSN 0305-7070

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03057079608708504

Abstract

The 'Black Peril' — the threatened rape of white women by black men — was an important factor in the moral economy underpinning colonial debate about the 'Native Question' in early twentieth-century South Africa. This essay gives sympathetic consideration to studies which have attempted to link the recurrence of Black Peril panics with specific disturbances in the economy or body politic, before offering symptomatic readings of two pieces of writing by George Webb Hardy, the article 'The Black Peril' (1904) and the novel The Black Peril (1912). These readings suggest that the rape threat was essentially a rationalization of white men's fear of sexual competition from black men. The imagery of purity and contagion, in terms of which the 'endogamous imperative' is typically represented in such texts, suggests that the idea of caste may usefully be invoked in attempts to explain the seemingly irrational public hysteria surrounding the Black Peril phenomenon.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:race relations; George Hardy; Black Peril; rape; white women
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > English
ID Code:1039
Deposited By:INVALID USER
Deposited On:04 Sep 2009
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:19
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