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Community, identity, and memory: Group Areas and the forced relocation of "Coloureds" to Woodlands, Pietermaritzburg, 1960 - 1990.

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This dissertation investigated the impact of the Group Areas Act (GAA) of 1950 on the Coloured community in Pietermaritzburg. The implementation of Group Areas resulted in the residents of Pietermaritzburg being rehoused in racially segregated townships and suburbs. The township of Woodlands was established for Coloureds. This dissertation uses oral history and a life history approach, supplemented with archival research, to examine the experience of the Coloured residents of Pietermaritzburg before the implementation of Group Areas, the experience of forced removals, how residents coped with the pain of being moved from their old communities. In contrast, others were pleased with the better quality housing and amenities they were given and how they reestablished aspects of community life in Woodlands, including building places of worship, sport, and education. This study, more broadly, explores the idea of community, showing how it comes into being, race as a social construct as what is considered Coloured has always been subject to change, and the (re)making of Coloured identities that resulted from the residents of Woodlands being placed in a defined physical space and having to work together to build institutions and infrastructure in their township. This study shows that while many take for granted the apartheid-era racial categorisations such as Coloured, African, Indian, and white, identities are multiple and fluid. Group Areas were instrumental in concretising the essence of being Coloured, but in the post-Apartheid period, that category, too, is subject to change. Finally, this dissertation considers the attitudes forged amongst Coloureds concerning the African and Indian residents of Pietermaritzburg in particular, showing that ideas of a racial hierarchy were embraced by some Coloureds and were not confined to whites.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.