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Intermediaries Of Class, Nation, And Gender In The African Response To Colonialism In South Africa, 1890s–1920s

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Chapter Summary

This chapter combines political, labour, and gender history to assess indigenous response to colonial capitalism in South Africa between 1890 and 1920. There are many different ways of imagining "intermediaries". The chapter discusses the role of relationships in the absence both of parliamentary and union intermediaries in colonial and early Union South Africa in which the position of black labour was marked by great precariousness. What made the role of intermediaries significant in colonial South Africa was state restriction of African representation and of black unionism combined with casualised workforces marked by partial proletarianisation. Under colonialism, the common cause for freedom and precariousness of black social classes often drove them together. From the perspectives of social biography and labour history, "intermediary" must accommodate the complexity and fluidity of colonial labour markets and working lives and this interestedness.

Keywords: capitalism; Colonialism; Intermediaries; proletarianisation; South Africa



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