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Marincowitz, John Nicholas Carel (1985) Rural Production and Labour in the Western Cape, 1838-1888, With Special Reference to the Wheat Growing Districts. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis deals with aspects of the history of the rural western Cape between 1838 and 1888. In particular, it investigates the people and processes that were involved in producing wheat from emancipation until industrialization, mechanization and urbanization began to have an impact on the rural areas. The thesis focuses on a substantial part of the social and economic history of the western Cape after slavery, and this has been a neglected area in the historiography of nineteenth-century South Africa. Chapter one outlines some characteristics of wheat production and the labour force and situates these in the broader political economy of the Colony. It then describes the responses of the ex-slaves to emancipation. The chapter chronicles the growing tensions between ex-slaves who sought to reduce their dependency on farm wages and farmers who sought measures to ensure their proletarianization. These tensions culminated in the years 1848 to 1853 when the Colony hovered on the brink of civil war. Chapter two shows how farmers and labourers fared during periods of economic expansion, during the 1850s, and the depression of the 1860s. It also investigates changes in labour and land laws and the effects of these upon agrarian property and labour relations. Chapter three covers the period 1867 to 1880. It examines the privatization of particular mission stations and illustrates the importance of the missions as labour reservoirs. The chapter traces the development of the first commercial farmers' political organizations and links the emergence of exclusive provisions for farm workers in the Masters and Servants Laws with the political mobilization of agrarian capital. The chapter demonstrates the growing ability of regular farm workers to shift into casual labouring tenancies, and of casual workers to reduce dependency upon farm wages, as economic developments of the 1870s presented agrarian labour ' with a range of alternatives to farm work. The final chapter examines some of the economic, social and ideological ingredients of the transition from Farmers' Protection Societies to Afrikaner Bond. It explains the inability of farmers to compete on international markets as commodity producers or as purchasers of labour power. Included here, is an analysis of what were likely to have been the largest number of labourers in any single industry in the Colony, the grain harvesters. The thesis closes with a discussion on race and class in the western Cape.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:32

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