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Silvester, Jeremy Gale (1993) Black Pastoralists, White Farmers: The Dynamics of Land Dispossession and Labour Recruitment in Southern Namibia, 1915-1955. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The dissertation examines the dynamics of rural economic struggle within the reserves and on white commercial farms. The supply of farm labour during the period 1915-1955 can be seen as an equation with a number of variables. Black pastoral communities in southern Namibia sought to retain control over their land and their labour. In contrast, the administration sought the division of land amongst a new wave of white immigrants and the recruitment of local black pastoralists as farm labourers. The 'state apparatus' available to enforce legislation in the early years of South African rule was initially weak and local labour control depended largely on the relationship between individual farmers and their workforce. The mobility of stock was essential to black pastoralists and denser white settlement increased the constraining influence of cartographical reserve borders. The State described these as 'labour reserves' and effectively prevented the emergence of black farmers who might rival their white neighbours. Yet case studies of the Bondelswarts and Berseba reserves show how economic differentiation influenced the shape of political resistance. The pattern of rapid white settlement in southern Namibia was initially inspired by a political, rather than economic agenda. The drought of 1929-1934 was a turning point in the economic history of the region. The subsequent transformation of the white farming community into the primary source of revenue within Namibia was strongly linked to the successful expansion of the karakul industry in southern Namibia. The alienation of land and the increase in the quantity and quality of white farmers stock was a crucial factor in the detrimental revision of the terms of employment of local workers on farms. The growing prosperity of white farmers in the region resulted in a change in the composition of the labour force with increased reliance upon migrant labour from northern Namibia.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:20

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