This panel examines the interplay between rural and urban workers in Durban and its hinterlands during the twentieth century. Migrant labour and homeland authorities, proletarianisation, workplace politics, and the role of Black and Indian workers in challenging apartheid will be considered.
This panel proposes to explore the complex nature of labour and the working-class experience in Durban and its rural hinterlands during the twentieth century, and especially the apartheid era. In particular, we aim to present papers that consider the fraught historical relationships between migrant workers still attached to their rural homesteads in KwaZulu and more settled workers in Durban, its industrial suburbs, and living near border industries or sugar mills in the countryside. We have papers on dockworkers (Peter Cole), sugar workers (Bernard Dubbeld), and the 1973 Durban strikes (Alex Lichtenstein). Additional topics might include conflicts between migrant and resident workers, conflicts between Indian and African workers, the history of Border industries, or the role of KwaZulu homeland authorities in mediating labour disputes. Together, our hope is that such empirical work will help evaluate Mamdani's famous distinction between "citizen and subject" in KwaZulu/Natal, and measure its applicability to the experience of African workers under apartheid.