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Term 1 Week 5: Maids and Madams

This week we will examine the history of domestic service, one of the largest sectors of urban employment for men, women and children in southern Africa from the late C19th to the present day. Our analysis will focus on relationships between domestic workers and employers in a number of settings; intersections of gender, race and class in the making of labour relations; and domestic workers' attempts to resist workplace exploitation.

Core Reading

J. Cock, Maids and Madams: a Study in the Politics of Exploitation (Johannesburg, 1980), pp. 26-86.

Karen Tranberg Hansen, 'Body Politics: Sexuality, Gender, and Domestic Service in Zambia', Journal of Women's History, 2, 1 (1990), pp. 120-142.

Shireen Ally, 'Domestic Worker Unionisation in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Demobilisation and Depoliticisation by the Democratic State', Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies, 35 (2008), pp. 1-21.

Hepburn, Sacha, ‘Service and Solidarity: Domestic Workers, Informal Organising and the Limits of Unionisation in Zambia’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 45, 1 (2019), 31-47.

Mbozi Haimbe, Madam's Sister. Published in Granta, 24th June 2019.

Seminar Questions

1. How did domestic service reproduce gender, race and class in southern African societies?

2. How did race and gender intersect in the making of relationships between domestic workers and employers?

3. In what ways have domestic workers tried to resist exploitation in the workplace?

4. What does Haime's Madam's Sister tell us about domestic service in post-colonial Zambia?

Primary Sources

Extracts from colonial government files on domestic service in Northern Rhodesia: National Archives of Zambia MLSS1/09/33 Conditions of Employment - Domestic Servants 1944-1954; National Archives of Zambia MLSS1/13/07 Employment of African Women (Domestics) 1955-56 and National Archives of Zambia MLSS1/26/195 Northern Rhodesia Domestic Workers Trade Union 1961-1962

Extracts from Emily G. Bradley, Dearest Priscilla: Letters to the Wife of a Colonial Civil Servant (1950).

Nadine Gordimer, July’s People (1981)

Doris Lessing, The Grass is Singing (1950)

Further Reading

Ally, S., From Servants to Workers: South African Domestic Workers and the Democratic State (Ithaca NY, 2009).

Ginsburg, R., At Home With Apartheid: The Hidden Landscapes of Domestic Service in Johannesburg (Charlottesville VA, 2011).

Nadine Gordimer, July’s People (1981)

Gordon, S., A Talent for Tomorrow: Life Stories of South African Servants (Johannesburg, 1985).

Hansen, K. T., Distant Companions: Servants and Employers in Zambia, 1900-1989 (Ithaca NY, 1989).

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

Hepburn, Sacha, 'Girlhood, Domestic Service and Perceptions of Child Labor in Zambia, c. 1980-2010', Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 12, 3 (2019), pp. 434-451.

International Labour Organisation, ‘Domestic Workers Across the World: Global and Regional Statistics and the Extent of Legal Protection’ (Geneva, 2013).

International Labour Organisation, ‘Rural-Urban Migrants Employed in Domestic Work: Issues and Challenges’ (Geneva, 2013).

Lessing, Doris, The Grass is Singing (1950)

Pape, J., ‘Still Serving the Tea: Domestic Workers in Zimbabwe 1980-90’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 19 (1993), pp. 387-404.

Schmidt, E., ‘Race, Sex and Domestic Labour: the Question of African Female Servants in Southern Rhodesia, 1900-1939’, in K. T. Hansen (ed.), African Encounters with Domesticity (New Brunswick NJ, 1992), pp. 221-241.

C Van Onselen, Studies in the Economic and Social History of the Witwatersrand 1886-1914 Volume 2: New Ninevah (Harlow, 1982), chapter 1.