Strangers in a strange land : undesirables and border-controls in colonial Durban, 1897-c.1910.
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This dissertation investigates the regulation of cross-border mobility and the formation of Natal, and nascent South African, immigration policy in the late colonial period. Natal's immigration technologies were at the very vanguard of a new global migration regime based on documentation and rigorous policing of boundaries. Essentially a thorough examination of the workings of the pre-Union Immigration Restriction Department (1897-c.191 0), I offer a historical analysis of state capacity to regulate and 'embrace' immigration along Natal's formative borders and points of entry, focusing on the port-town of Durban, whose colonial urban proftle forms a subsidiary focus of the project. This involves going beyond a mere study of policy and legislation - instead I have made a close and historically attentive study of the actual mechanisms of regulation and inclusion/exclusion and where these routinely failed, were subverted or implicated in economies of fraud and evasion. Through this, I build upon and deepen legal studies of immigration restriction by considering the practical and, to some degree, lived experience of restriction. I lay the groundwork by contextualizing the specific contours of 'undesirability' in turn of the century Durban. I point to a number of moral panics and a sense of crisis that engulfed officials in the town, referring in turn to merchant and 'passenger' Indians, wartime refugees, maritime labourers and poor whites, amongst others, moving to and through a regional and Indian-Ocean economy. I then turn to the 'technologies of exclusion' in two streams: 'paper-based' technologies of pass regimes, domicile certificates and education/language tests, and secondly more explicit forms of confinement, surveillance and patrol through police-guard systems and detention policies. An important aspect of the question that I consider turns on the growing capacity of the state to arrest and intern during and following the South African war. By the end of the war in 1902, progress would in practice be underwritten by a new climate of professional, technical and managerial agency that also percolated through state bureaucracies. 'Technological' and bureaucratic proficiency provided a legitimate and unproblematic guise for highly politicized state intervention and forms the origins of the 20'h century South African immigration administration.
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