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Not White Enough, Not Black Enough

Racial Identity in the South African Coloured Community

Mohamed Adhikari

Publication Year: 2005

The concept of Colouredness---being neither white nor black---has been pivotal to the brand of racial thinking particular to South African society .The nature of Coloured identity has always been a matter of intense political and ideological contestation. Between Black and White: Racial Identity in the South African Coloured Community is the first systematic study of Coloured identity, its history, and its relevance to South African national life. Mohamed Adhikari engages with the debates and controversies thrown up by the identity?s troubled existence and challenges much of the conventional wisdom associated with it. A combination of wide-ranging thematic analyses and detailed case studies illustrate how Colouredness functioned as a social identity from the time of its emergence in the late nineteenth century through to its adaptation to the post-apartheid environment. Adhikari demonstrates how the interplay of marginality, racial hierarchy, assimilationist aspirations, negative racial stereotyping, class divisions, and ideological conflicts helped mold peoples' sense of Colouredness over the past century. Knowledge of this history and of the social and political dynamic that informed the articulation of a separate Coloured identity are vital to an understanding of present-day complexities in South Africa. Mohamed Adhikari lectures in the Department of Historical Studies, University of Cape Town. His books include Let us Live for Our Children: The Teachers League of South Africa, 1913-1940, and he coedited South Africa's Resistance Press: Alternative Voices in the Last Generation under Apartheid (Ohio, 2000).

Published by: Ohio University Press

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pp. ix-x

The long-germinating seed for this book and, more generally, my interest in the nature of Coloured identity was planted sometime in March or April 1979 when, as a second-year history student at the University of Cape Town, I went on one of my periodic visits to Marie Maud’s office. Marie was a lecturer in the History Department, a...

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pp. xi-xv

The nature of Coloured identity, its history, and the implications it holds for South African society have evoked considerable interest in recent times. Debates around these issues have generated much controversy, yet there has been no systematic study of Coloured identity. At best, the current literature offers superficial attempts at analyzing...


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pp. xvii

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1. Continuity and Context: An Overview of Coloured Identity in White Supremacist South Africa

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pp. 1-32

There is a general lack of familiarity with the history of the Coloured community of South Africa, except perhaps for an awareness that it has generally been a story of racial oppression and that for nearly the whole of the twentieth century, it followed a discernible trend of intensifying segregationism and a continual erosion of Coloured...

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2. History from the Margins: Changing Perceptions of Its Past within the Coloured Community

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pp. 33-65

The marginality of the Coloured community is reflected in South African historiography in that relatively little has been written on the history of this social group and much of what has been written is polemical, speculative, poorly researched, or heavily biased. In many general histories, Coloured people have effectively been written out of...

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3. The Predicament of Marginality: Case Studies from the Earlier Period of White Rule

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pp. 66-97

This chapter is based on two case studies of key texts produced within the Coloured community during the first three decades of the Union of South Africa. The first focuses on the APO newspaper, the mouthpiece of the African Political Organization, which was by far the most dominant Coloured political pressure group until it was challenged...

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4. The Hegemony of Race: Coloured Identity within the Radical Movement during the Mid-twentieth Century

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pp. 98-130

This chapter uses two case studies to explore the ways in which the rise of the radical movement in Coloured politics influenced the expression of Coloured identity up until the early 1960s, when it was crushed by state repression. The first case study examines the Torch newspaper that appeared between 1946 and 1963. As the mouthpiece...

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5. The Emperor’s New Clothes: Coloured Rejectionism during the Latter Phases of the Apartheid Era

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pp. 131-161

This chapter will trace the trajectory of Coloured rejectionism, a development that started within a small section of the Coloured intelligentsia in the early 1960s and grew into a significant movement by the time it peaked at the end of the 1980s. It declined during the early 1990s, when the espousal of Coloured identity once again became...

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6. New Responses to Old Dilemmas: Coloured Identity in a Transforming South Africa

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pp. 162-187

The overarching argument of the book has been that Coloured identity remained remarkably stable and experienced relatively little fundamental change in the way it operated throughout the era of white domination. The postapartheid period has, however, witnessed significant and swift changes in the ways Coloured identity manifests...


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pp. 189-229

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pp. 231-242


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pp. 243-252

E-ISBN-13: 9780896804425
Print-ISBN-13: 9780896802445

Publication Year: 2005