The 'home' in homeland: gender, national space, and Inkatha's politics of ethnicity

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In South Africa, a country in which the manipulation of ethnicity was at the heart of the government's attempts to establish control over the majority African population, ethnic mobilization during the liberation struggle was singularly unsuccessful. The one exception was Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's controversial Inkatha movement. This article suggests that one of the reasons for Inkatha's successes was the astute way in which the organization and, in particular, Buthelezi played on gendered notions of 'home' and 'homeland'. Historically, apartheid constructed notions of home and space differently for women and men and Inkatha was able to draw upon and manipulate these differences to produce a powerfully felt response. Thus, for men, many of them migrant workers in South Africa's cities, the notion of 'home' implied a return to patriarchal values and male domestic control in a historically constituted 'homeland'; for women, Buthelezi emphasized the new 'modern' opportunities opened up by the KwaZulu homeland, and the importance of their 'God-given' gifts of motherhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-678
Number of pages26
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Buthelezi Gatsha
  • Ethnicity
  • Feminism - political theory
  • Inkatha (organization: South Africa)
  • KwaZulu (South Africa) - politics and government
  • South Africa - politics and government 1978-89

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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