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Raman, Parvathi (2002) Being an Indian Communist the South African way: The influence of Indians in the South African Communist Party, 1934-1952. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The Indians that settled in South Africa were differentiated by class, caste, religion, language and region of origin. Whilst some Indians were imported as indentured labourers to work on the sugar plantations in Natal, others came as merchants and traders and set up businesses in South Africa. In this thesis, I consider the historical background to the construction of 'Indianness' in South Africa, where the idea of 'community', a contested and transformative concept, called upon existing cultural traditions brought from India, as well as new ways of life that developed in South Africa. Crucially, central to the construction of 'Indianness' were notions of citizenship and belonging within their new environment. I look at the ways in which sections of the Indian 'community' were radicalised through fighting for democratic rights and citizenship in South Africa, and subsequently joined the South African Communist Party. With Indian South African communists, there was, I argue, a complex articulation between the influence of Gandhi and the Indian national movement, socialism and class politics, and the circumstances of their new social and political landscape. Historically, Indians have been disproportionately represented in the South African Communist Party in relation to their numbers in wider South African society. They have played an important part in the development of political strategies within the party and, in particular, have contributed to the ongoing debate on the relationship between nationalism and socialism and the practical application of this in party work. In this thesis, I look at the role of Indians in the South African Communist Party and consider the social, cultural and political influences that they brought to the organisation. I examine how these traditions were woven into new forms of political resistance within the CP, and how these fed into the Defiance Campaign of 1952.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:10

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