Wie is ek? : a study of Afrikaner identity in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Social Anthropology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
Afrikaners have had a tumultuous history since the Dutch arrived in what is now known as Cape Town. Using Barth’s (1969) concept of ethnic boundary construction and maintenance, this research examines the state of Afrikaans identity in a New Zealand diasporic context. The research employs a novel approach to interview data collection, using a modified version of Wengraf’s (2017) biographic narrative interview method in conjunction with a dual-participant interview method. This approach allows a multiplicity of subjective viewpoints, exploring Afrikaner perceptions, their experiences, how they see themselves fitting into their Afrikaans community and how this community fits into New Zealand society.
The findings from this study show that Afrikaners refer to a representation akin to a Barthian model of Afrikaner. Through interviews, participants implied this presentation which was then constructed into an analytic model for the study. The model they indicated consists of four key characteristics: heritage, faith as a cultural value, language and a conservative worldview. Participants referred to themselves against this model in order to ascertain how ‘typical’ they are regarding shared community behaviour and perspectives.
The study then discusses this Afrikaner identity in a New Zealand socio-cultural context. It discovers that even though New Zealand and Afrikaner-South African societies are vastly different, New Zealand’s socially liberal worldview allows an easy transition for today’s comparatively diverse Afrikaners. This transitional process and ethnic boundary modification was found to impact Afrikaner identity in varying ways, particularly related to areas of personal security, new relationship formation and hospitality, manner of speech, and how they perceived what members of New Zealand society think about Afrikaners.