Swines, Hazels, and the Dirty Dozen: Masculinity, Territoriality, and the Youth Gangs of Soweto, 1960-1976

Citation:

Glaser, Clive. 1998. “Swines, Hazels, and the Dirty Dozen: Masculinity, Territoriality, and the Youth Gangs of Soweto, 1960-1976.” Journal of South African Studies 24 (4): 719-736. 

Author: Clive Glaser

Abstract:

During the 1960s and early 1970s, the youth gangs of Soweto, like their predecessors throughout the Witwatersrand in the 1940s and 1950s, developed a sense of masculine identity intimately linked to their territories. There was a great deal of cultural continuity between these exclusively male urban gangs and rural age grades: groups of male adolescents separated off from established households to experiment with their sexuality, hone their fighting skills and assert their independence. The social mobility of most city-bred black youths, however, was blocked and much of their masculine dignity was invested in their ability to dominate their local streets. Gang identity depended on an overlap of personal and spatial familiarity, which took time to develop. Gangs therefore usually emerged in fairly settled neighbourhoods. While there was relative continuity in gang formation in the older parts of Soweto, especially Orlando, gangs took longer to cohere in the newly resettled parts of Soweto like Meadowlands and Diepkloof.

Topics: Clan, Gender, Men, Boys, Masculinity/ies, Tribe, Violence Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 1998

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