Class, race and gender : the political economy of women in colonial Natal.
Colonial Natal has become an increasingly popular field of investigation for historians of Southern Africa over the last decade or so. This trend is not premature or " irrelevant for, although not demonstrating" the economic impact of the diamond-mining industry of the Cape, or the gold-mining industry of the Transvaal, the political " economy of nineteenth century Natal played a significant role in forming patterns of South African social and economic development, as well as attitudes towards this, not least of all in terms of labour exploitation. The history of Natal during this period has been lacking by and large in what I consider to be two important aspects. Firstly, the colony, on the whole, has been neglected by Marxist and radical historians; and secondly, the history of women in South Africa, as yet a nascent area of research in itself, has not included an attempt to date, understand the lives of those women who lived along the south-east coastal belt of Southern Africa, between the Drakensberg and the Indian Ocean. This study strives to be a preliminary step in the direction of redressing this imbalance, by offering an introductory exposition on the political economy of women in colonial Natal.
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