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Beinart, William Justin (1979) Production, Labour Migrancy and the Chieftancy: Aspects of the Political Economy of Pondoland, ca. 1860-1930. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is a contribution towards the study of the transformation of African society in South Africa under the impact of colonisation and capitalist development. It is a case study of political and economic change in one African chiefdom, the Mpondo, before and after the society was annexed by the Cape Colony in 1894. In the first chapter, an attempt is made to analyse the nature of the economy of the chiefdom prior to colonial rule, to discuss the relationship between chiefs and people, and to assess the effects of the penetration of colonial traders into the area. The second chapter, dealing with the response of the Mpondo chiefs to economic change, argues that the political conflict between the chiefs and colonial powers in the late nineteenth century must be located in the struggle for control over trade. Responses to Rinderpest (1897), the opening of colonial markets for Mpondo grain and attempts to mobilise a migrant labour force from Pondoland are analysed in chapter three. It is sug-gested that the simultaneous increase in grain production and migrancy can only be explained if the particular form of early migrancy and the structure of Mpondo homesteads is understood. Chapter four illustrates the effects of state intervention in Pondoland after Union (1910). While the Mpondo were blocked from markets for much of their produce and more deeply incorporated into the capitalist economy as migrant labourers, changes in patterns of cropping and family structure enabled output to be maintained. In chapter five, it is argued that the Cape and Union governments, after attempting, initially, to destroy the chieftaincy, allowed the chiefs some leeway in order to maintain control in Pondoland. The survival of chiefly authority, especially insofar as it included control over the distribution of land, had important implications for the nature of production and stratification in the area. Rural differentiation, emerging rural class divisions, and conflicts and alliances in rural politics are discussed in chapter six.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:13

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