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Dogs and dogma: A discussion of the socio-political construction of southern african dog 'breeds' as a window onto social history

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Chapter Summary

Dogs have been entangled in human lives, myths, illusions, and sentiments for at least the last ten to twelve thousand years. The alliance between dogs and humans is the oldest among all the animals, and the relationship is so long that the story we think of as theirs is often our own. This chapter is an attempt to extract a measure of their story and show how and why it has merged with ours in one particular context. It is an engagement with the social role of the three Southern African dog ?breeds?: the Rhodesian ridgeback, the Boerboel and the Africanis. The discussion explores the current discourses, debates and marketing strategies surrounding the dogs, with particular emphasis on the recent move to reclassify the ?kaffir dog? as the ?Africanis?. The chapter tracks the pawprints into the social history of southern African society, opening up wider issues of identity.

Keywords: Africanis; Boerboel; Rhodesian Ridgeback; social symbolism; Southern Africa



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