Citizens, not subjects
Spatial segregation and the making of Durban’s African working class
ByAlex Lichtenstein
Pages 20

Writing in the 1950s, Marxist anthropologist Max Gluckman voiced his ­impatience with his fellow Africanists' tendency to "make the tribe and the tribesman the starting point of analysis," even when studying urbanized Africans. To the contrary, Gluckman argued, "the moment an African crosses his tribal boundary, he is 'detribalized'." As soon as Africans "engage in industrial work," he continued, they will begin to form social relationships appropriate to their new situation," including trade unions. Investigating the composition of Durban's African working class during and after the strikes reveals the connection between "ghettoized" urban residential patterns and labor relations at this crucial juncture in South African history. A preliminary breakdown of "settled" and migrant workers in the Durban area comes from the records of the Central District Labour Bureau of the Port Natal Administration Board (PNAB). The goal of Homeland authorities was to make urban-industrial segregation compatible with apartheid's radical separation of territory into allegedly sovereign spheres.