Masculinities, militarisation and the End Conscription campaign

War resistance in apartheid South Africa

By Daniel Conway

Masculinities, militarisation and the End Conscription campaign

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8320-4
  • Pages: 192
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: June 2012
  • BIC Category: Politics, Social & cultural history, Political control & freedoms, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Men's Studies, HISTORY / Social History, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: men, Society & social sciences / Political control & freedoms


Masculinities, militarisation and the End Conscription Campaign explores the gendered dynamics of apartheid-era South Africa's militarisation and analyses the defiance of compulsory military service by individual white men, and the anti-apartheid activism of the white men and women in the End Conscription Campaign (ECC), the most significant white anti-apartheid movement to happen in South Africa. Military conscription and objection to it are conceptualised as gendered acts of citizenship and premised on and constitutive of masculinities.

Conway draws upon a range of materials and disciplines to produce this socio-political study. Sources include interviews with white men who objected to military service in the South African Defence Force (SADF); archival material, including military intelligence surveillance of the ECC; ECC campaigning material, press reports and other pro-state propaganda. The analysis is informed by perspectives in sociology, international relations, history and from work on contemporary militarised societies such as those in Israel and Turkey. This book also explores the interconnections between militarisation, sexuality, race, homophobia and political authoritarianism.


Conway offers a fascinating account of how the SADF adapted - presenting itself as having a place for a wider range of masculinities - as popular concern with the consequences of conscription grew through-out the 1980's.

'Conway's book is a highly readable, engaging history of a lost chapter of anti-apartheid activism, and memorializes not only the broad and costly impacts of military conscription on white society but also the deeply personal turmoil faced by individuals who
refused to fight for a cause that they perceived was unjust'



1. Soldiers, citizens and strangers

2. The militarisation of South Africa and the growth of war resistance

3. Performing citizenship, engendering consent: constructing militarised masculinities and citizenship in South Africa

4. ‘Going the right way’: contesting conscription

5. Breaking away: the End Conscription Campaign

6. ‘Every cowards choice’?: responses to war resistance




Daniel Conway is Lecturer in Politics and International Studies in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the Open University

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