About the project
‘Fighting Fertility: The Politics of Race and Contraception in Apartheid South Africa, c.1980-1994' grows out of my interest in the histories of female activism and liberal networks in Southern Africa, and has received funding from the Wellcome Trust, the British Academy and the South African National Research Foundation.
In the project I am examining the ways in which in the 1970s, the South African National Party enthusiastically embraced Malthusian ideas in an attempt to sanitise the apartheid project.
As my research is showing, Malthusian theory became a vehicle for discussions of the country’s so-called population “imbalance” and a way to legitimise fears of the swart gevaar (black danger).
Popular discourse was awash with debates that centred on food security and the finality of natural resources. In this sense then, the country’s ‘population policy’ therefore became a proxy for, and a space within which, white anxieties of demographic “swamping” could be articulated. Paying lip-service to questions of “development”, the apartheid state allied itself to global debates in an attempt to legitimise the social engineering that lay at the heart of apartheid.