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Racial Consciousness and the Boundaries of Diaspora Arabs from Zanzibar and Bombay are also finding South Africa a fine field for enterprise, and there is scarcely a town or village in which their stores are not seen. Indeed the retail trade in native goods is almost wholly in their hands, to the chagrin and grief of European merchants. Both Arabs and Indians are regarded by many as a curse, but how to get rid of them is a question. Thus there will be an Asiatic as well as African problem to be settled some day in this part of the world. If I were to tell you about things I know, it would take a very long time. From to , over , indentured workers arrived in Natal, largely from the Hindi-speaking Gangetic plains and the south Indian coast. Struik, , Despite its loss of territory, the Zulu kingdom remained independent until its loss in the Anglo-Zulu War. It also shaped the racial, political, and cultural dynamics of African life in the province and far beyond. I discuss the historiography of Natal and the Indian population in South Africa further in the chapters that follow. As Sunil Amrith writes: I analyze the dominant set of racial dynamics that emerged in urban Natal, particularly Durban, during the late s and early 40s and then explore their ramifications for African politics in both that province and the Transvaal the location of the national ANC leadership. It also tries to demonstrate the empirical and conceptual limitations of any history of South Africa during this period that is organized along racial or provincial lines. Rather, the concept of diaspora needs to be rethought according to a problematic that simultaneously traverses racial categories and excavates the different sites of their reproduction. Much of the scholarship on Indian identity and politics in South Africa either passes over the African majority in silence or addresses the impact of African-Indian racial dynamics solely at the level of organized politics. World of Possibility Cape Town: According to this version of events, a series of groundbreaking agreements and common political actions created the basis for transcending racial divisions: Unquestionably, these years produced the symbols, personalities, and terminology that came to define the ANC and its allied organizations for the next five decades. This dissertation contends that the Indian independence struggle, the writings of political leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, and South African Indian political activists were more central to this process than many historians concede and, somewhat paradoxically, the depth of the racial divisions between Indians and Africans was far more intractable. University of Chicago Press, , It is important to underline the pervasive ideological influence of the race relations framework on the thinking of African and Indian intellectuals in South Africa, who closely followed the publications of the South African Institute of Race Relations and regularly attended and spoke at meetings organized by the institute. I discuss this question at greater length in chapter 3. Neither reducible to an element of social structure nor simply ideological, the idea of racial dynamics refers to the interplay between stereotype and interaction within particular spaces, like stores, bioscopes, factories, or buses. In contradistinction to a totalizing system, a racial dynamic is a pattern or grammar that can become dominant in some circumstances, but does not govern every situation and therefore permits exceptions or alternatives. Since the differing stereotypes of the participants organize or script a racial dynamic, it can also be translated into other locations and reenacted accordingly. The central role of these sites in organizing urban life helped to translate the complexities of political economy and ethno-linguistic difference into the simplistic, but extremely powerful, idiom of race. Although African politicians like A. Champion president of the Natal ANC during most of the s regularly employed anti-Indian demagoguery in their speeches and writing, the weakness of organized African politics strongly suggests that they were largely echoing the intense resentments of many migrant workers and shantytown dwellers. Individual Africans and Indians were friends, drinking partners, criminal coconspirators, social acquaintances, political comrades, and lovers. They shopped at the same stores, rode the same buses, often worked in the same factories, and occasionally lived side-by-side. Crowds of Africans looted Indian-owned shops, attacked and killed Indians, burned houses and buildings, and raped Indian women and girls. These gangs also targeted Africans employed by Indians. In the midst of the chaos, numerous Africans protected Indian neighbors and friends by hiding them or helping them flee. The Durban pogrom resulted in a severe crisis within the ANC. Following the pogrom, Natal ANC and Indian Congress leaders worked together to appeal for calm and released a joint statement condemning the violence signed by African and Indian leaders from across the country. However, the circumstances surrounding the joint statement provoked further discord within the ANC leadership and many working-class Africans began to challenge publically the position of cooperation adopted by the ANC. Chapter 4 begins by discussing one of the most common anti-Indian accusations voiced by Africans following the pogrom: Indian men used their wealth and privilege to seduce African women. This claim was ubiquitous: For many Africans, miscegenation represented the usurpation of sexual access to African women by a race whose 10 relative achievements supposedly came at their immediate expense. In contrast, Indian nationalists universally denied that miscegenation between Africans and Indians occurred on any significant scale. Beyond the level of elite discourse, groups of Indian families constructed and reproduced ethno-linguistic communities through a combination of endogamy, religious institutions, and reconfigured elements of caste. The gendered organization of Indian communities resulted in the exclusion of most Africans from Indian social spaces, particularly homes. When Africans did work in Indian households, they frequently experienced a variety of discriminatory and abusive treatments. The first section of the chapter describes a new urban demimonde that developed in Johannesburg and, to a lesser extesnt, Durban in the s: The third section of chapter 5 tells the story of the Natal ANC during the s. Membership remained in the hundreds and many Africans continued to oppose any from of collaboration with the Indian Congress. In townships like Cato Manor, conservative, Zulu-nationalist cooperatives like Zulu Hlanganani established a considerable degree of economic and political control. In the late s, the Natal ANC experienced rapid growth driven by the revival of African trade unionism, protests over forced removals from Cato Manor, and resistance in the countryside. The Freedom Charter became the central symbol in a transformed rhetoric and political aesthetics: In confronting the immediate dilemmas of building a united movement composed of historically distinct groups, the Congress Alliance created a new image of the nation, an image whose major inspiration was the organizational form of the alliance itself. Sources, Language, and Racial Terminology This dissertation relies primarily on three kinds of sources: I also make use of novels, government reports, interviews that I conducted 13 9 As Stuart Hall argues: Yet despite this apparent grounding in biological givens, outside history, racism, when it appears, has an effect on other ideological formations within the same society, and its development promotes a transformation of the whole ideological field in which it becomes operative. Race and Colonialism Paris: I follow three general rules in analyzing this material. First, I respect the political and racial terminology present in the documents themselves in assessing their intellectual and political import. In effect, this practice rewrites the racial discourse of the past so that it reflects the politics of a later period, thus introducing an inadvertent teleology at the level of narration. It also minimizes the profound political and intellectual disruptions in African politics caused by two events: The Modernization of Rural France, Stanford: Stanford University Press, , xii. But individual stories often illuminate the limitations of a racial dynamic or sometimes uncover arenas where its script did not apply. In my account, I have tried to establish a judicious balance between emphasizing the enormous power of racial consciousness and racism in virtually every aspect of Durban life and capturing the continual presence of social interactions that defy generalization in racial terms. My dissertation gives particular attention to the intellectual content and representational strategies of African and Indian newspapers, especially editorial writings, articles on major events within South Africa and India, descriptions of Durban life, and the views expressed by readers in letters. What was the audience for these publications? In , a government report on adult education estimated that between , and , Africans were reading periodicals of some sort. That same year, Inkundla Ya Bantu, a relatively sophisticated journal of politics and ideas, boasted a circulation of 7,, largely in Natal. Africa World Press, , Witwatersrand University Press and Ravan Press, , 64 newspaper Bantu World during this period and then shared its content verbally with others. Ilanga printed material in English and Zulu, with Zulu predominating. Only a minority of readers could understand the English language pages. During the s, Indian Opinion was primarily written in English, although a small section of each issue appeared in Gujarati. Drum only used English. As Eugen Weber writes regarding 19th-century France: But who in nineteenth-century France, had access to the temple of the printing press? The answer is, surprisingly many people, for one need not read to enjoy its products. An enormous gulf in comprehension existed between the most literate readers and a wider audience, which was still learning the basic conventions of a 16 16 For a humorous and insightful discussion of the struggles that Drum magazine faced in addressing the poorer and less educated African public, see Anthony Sampson, DRUM: The Houghton Mifflin Press, , Zebra, , Re-imagining the Disciplines, Johannesburg, May Cambridge University Press , Western-style print culture, like the distinction between news articles and advertising. But such voices were heavily mediated by the worldview and politics of the journalists and editors.
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