“PLACE OF OUR OWN”: The Anthropology of Space and Place In the Afrikaner Volkstaat of Orania
Author: Lise Hagen
Publication: M A Thesis, UNISA
In anthropological studies place is often taken for granted, “just” the locale where other interesting, more significant things happen (De Jongh 2006:79). I argue that rather than a mere backdrop to activities, the landscape of Orania is significant and that physical place is essential for the construction of an Orania identity. I ethnographically examine whether the physical setting of Orania can be seen as a prime signifying system through which a particular Afrikaner ethnic identity, as well as a set of socio-cultural values is communicated.
Occupying the physical land is a form of collective identity that helps create ethnic identities (Tilley 2006:11-13). Orania is an authentic place-bound expression of this quest for identity and Oranians define their identity through their model of space and of their land. The physical boundaries are expanded when support groups outside of the settlement become an integral part of the activities in the community, and socio-political boundaries are tested by an in- and outflux of community members and the constant presence of South African and international press, and visitors.