Poor settlers are settlers: Nicola Ginsburgh, White Workers and the Production of Race in Southern Rhodesia, 1910-1980, PhD thesis, University of Leeds, 2018


Abstract: Scholarship on lower class whites, the worlds of white labour and poor whites in African settler states have been dominated by a geographical focus on South Africa, Algeria and to a lesser extent Mozambique and Angola. Research on the Southern Rhodesian settler population has tended to focus on middle class and rural whites. Wage labourers comprised a significant part of the Southern Rhodesian settler population and offer the opportunity to redress these current imbalances and challenge orthodoxies concerning white workers in racially-stratified labour markets. Through examining the struggles over the racialisation and gendering of particular categories of work, this thesis unearths the ways in which race, gender, ethnicity and nationality were differentially understood and performed. It examines white workers outside of the typical temporal and thematic parameters which have been pursued by labour historians of Southern Rhodesia by interrogating the neglected realms of culture and identity and extending the chronological focus from the first decades of settlement through the Second World War, the Central African Federation and Rhodesian Front period to the end of minority settler rule in 1980. Through analysing women as part of the formal labour force it reveals the diverse experiences of white women in the colonies, examines how work was gendered, and corrects a longstanding omission in existing labour histories. Its originality lies not only in its focus on under-researched aspects of female wage labour, white identity and class experience in Southern Rhodesia, but in its methodological and theoretical synthesis of work on gender, whiteness studies, settler colonialism, emotions, the New African Economic History, space and borders.

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