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Term 1 Week 3: Working the Land

This week centres on rural economies in C19th and C20th southern Africa. Farming has long been the main source of subsistence and livelihood for many southern African people and it is vital we get to grips with a number of issues relating to this. We will examine the organisation of labour in rural societies and how these shifted through contact with colonial actors; colonial economics and cash cropping; and labour relations between black workers and white employers on white farms.

Core Reading

Colin Bundy, 'The Emergence and Decline of a South African Peasantry', African Affairs, 71 (1972), 369-88.

Charles Van Onselen, ‘Race and Class in the South African Countryside: Cultural Osmosis and Social Relations in the Share-Cropping Economy of the South Western Transvaal. 1900-1950’, American Historical Review, 99 (1990), pp. 99-123.

David Johnson, 'Settler Farmers and Coerced African Labour in Southern Rhodesia, 1936–46', The Journal of African History, 33, 1 (1992), pp. 111-128.

Pius S. Nyambara, 'Colonial Policy and Peasant Cotton Agriculture in Southern Rhodesia, 1904-1953', The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 33, 1 (2000), pp. 81-111.

Seminar Questions

1. How persuasive are Bundy's arguments about the 'emergence and decline' of the South African peasantry?

2. How did race and class shape labour relations in rural South Africa and Southern Rhodesia?

3. How did colonial policies impact rural economies in Southern Rhodesia and South Africa?

4. Who benefited from rural economic development in colonial southern Africa and why?

Primary Sources

Sol. T. Plaatje, Native Life in South Africa (1916).

Further Reading

Arrighi, G. ‘Labor Supplies in Historical Perspective: A Study of the Proletarianization of the African Peasantry in Rhodesia’, Journal of Development Studies, 6 (1970): 197-234.

William Beinart and Colin Bundy, Hidden Struggles in Rural South Africa (London, 1987).

Beinart, W., P. Delius and S. Trapido (eds), Putting a Plough to the Ground. Accumulation and Dispossession in Rural South Africa, 1850-1930 (Johannesburg, 1986).

M. Crowder, The Flogging of Phinehas Mclntosh. A Tale of Colonial Folly and Injustice, Bechuanaland, 1933 (1988).

D. Hay and P. Craven (eds), Masters, Servants and Magistrates in Britain and the Empire, 1562-1955 (Chapel Hill, 2004).

Jeeves, A., J. Crush (eds), White Farms, Black Labour. The State and Agrarian Change in Southern Africa Oxford, 1997).

Tom Keegan, 'The sharecropping economy, African class formation and the 1913 Natives Land Act in the high veld maize belt', in Shula Marks and Richard Rathbone (eds), Industrialization and Social Change in South Africa (New York, 1982), pp. 195-211.

Keegan, T., Rural Transformations in Industrializing South Africa: The Southern Highveld to 1914 (Basingstoke, 1987).

Shula Marks and Anthony Atmore (eds), Economy and Society in Pre-Industrial South Africa (London, 1980).

Phimister, I. R., ‘Zimbabwe. The Path of Capitalist Development’, in D. Birmingham and P. Martin (eds), History of Central Africa, vol. ii (Harlow, 1993), pp. 251-90.

Phimister, I. R., A Social and Economic History of Zimbabwe, 1890-1948 (London, 1988).

Pilossof, R., ‘Labor Relations in Zimbabwe from 1900 to 2000: Sources, Interpretations, and Understandings’, History in Africa, 41, (2014), pp 337-362.

Rubert, S., A Most Promising Weed: History of Tobacco Farming and Labour in Colonial Zimbabwe 1890-1945 (Athens, 1998).

Shutt, A. K., ‘”The Natives are getting out of Hand”: Legislating Manners, Insolence and Contemptuous Behaviour in Southern Rhodesia, c. 1910-1963’, Journal of Southern African Studies 33, (2007), pp. 653-772.

Charles Van Onselen, 'The Social and Economic Underpinning of Paternalism and Violence on the Maize Farms of the South‐Western Transvaal, 1900–1950', The Journal of Historical Sociology, 5, 2 (1992), pp. 127-160.

Charles Van Onselen, ‘The Reconstruction of a Rural Life from Oral Testimony. Critical Notes on the Methodology Employed in the Study of a Black South African Sharecropper’, The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3, April 1993, pp. 494-514.

Charles Van Onselen, The Seed is Mine. The Life of Kas Maine, a South African Sharecropper, 1894-1985 (Oxford, 1997).