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"- and my blood became hot!" : crimes of passion, crimes of reason : an analysis of the crimes against masters and mistresses by their Indian domestic servants, Natal, 1880-1920.

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This thesis posits that the experiences and emotional strain associated with being a domestic servant gave rise to a culture of anger and violence within the ranks of Indian Domestic Servants in Colonial Natal during the period 1880 to 1920. These acts of violence, in particular physical and indecent assault and poisoning are explored here not in admiration of their brutality, but for their historical relevance to the study of Indenture, more specifically in the area of servant-master/mistress relations. The study uses these crimes as a window into the social dynamics of the settler home and domestic space in Colonial Natal, since they were created within their own set of orchestrating emotions and situations. The thesis draws on international and local literature around master/mistress-servant relations as well as relations between domestic slaves and the owners of their labour at the same time in other regions of the world. The findings of this thesis contribute to the historiography of South Africa; to the historiography of Indian South African life; to the historiography of servantmaster/mistress relationships; to the analysis of the complex intermingling of private and public labour and lives bound up with this labour form, both in past moulds and in its present form; and to the growing literature on the linkages between utilizing analysis of legal institutions and legal records in researching and writing the history of South African lives. Most importantly however, this thesis is the story of ordinary men and women whose lives, cultures, individualities and histories intersected with the domestic and colonial nexus.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2005


Indians--Employment--KwaZulu-Natal., Indians--Kwazulu-Natal--Economic conditions., Indians--South Africa--Social life and customs., Indians--South Africa--Social conditions., Theses--History.