Chapter 1: Theoretical Debates and Methodological Controversies
Chapter 3: The Constitution of Black as ‘Other’
Chapter 4: The Black as Uncivilized
Chapter 5: The Management of Blacks
Chapter 6: The Blacks; Political Anatomy and Bio-Power
Chapter 7: White Domination and Black Subjection
Bibliography: List of Works Cited
This dissertation has been written under the aegis of the Department of Philosophy, and I acknowledge with thanks the advice and encouragement that I have received from my supervisor. Dr. John Forrester. But the subject, the deployment of racism in South Africa, requires the student to go beyond traditional philosophy, in which I had my previous training at UNISA and the University of Witwatersrand and to span disciplines with which previously I had little acquaintance. The scope of this work might appear ambitious, but it makes no pretensions to the exhaustive knowledge or the mastery of skills in disciplines outside my own which a 'definitive' treatment would have required. Rather, the purpose of this work has been more modest, but original: to enquire whether an alternative approach to the analysis of racism in South Africa, influenced by Foucault, might contribute to the understanding, of a subject which commands much contemporary interest in academic circles and beyond.
I certify that this dissertation is the result of my own work and includes nothing which is the outcome of work done in collaboration; full references to the sources on which it has been based are given throughout in footnotes, and in the - bibliography.
In many respects, the long odyssey which this dissertation has involved (made longer by circumstances outside my control, such as illness) has been a solitary experience: by attempting to take some of Foucault's ideas into uncharted territory. I have had no blue prints and relatively little contact with those who study his texts in a European context; and because of the angle of vision from which I have looked at the subject, I also have had less contact than I would have liked with those who are engaged in the debates about South Africa. In any event, most academics in South Africa, however open-minded they are, still tend to belong to close the black student is concerned. None of this has made access to materials, or to the exchange of ideas which bear upon them, any easier. So the faults of this dissertation are very much my own.
But along the way I have incurred many debts of gratitude for many kindnesses, both institutional and personal. I wish in particular to acknowledge the support of the Trustees of the Cambridge Livingstone Trust who awarded me a scholarship, and the kind interest of Mr. R.F. Holmes, its Secretary. I also gratefully acknowledge the help that I have received from the African Education Trust, Newnham College and the Managers of the Smuts Memorial Fund who, together with New Hall, have recently appointed me to a newly-created post in Cambridge, a Fellowship in Inter-ethnic Relations. In South Africa, I wish to thank Andre du Toit, Peter Hudson and Chabani Manganyi. In Cambridge, Hugh Mellor, Elizabeth Anscombe and Margueritte Morris, have given me encouragement; Geoffrey Hawthorn, John Iliffe and John Lonsdale have cast an indulgent eye on earlier, and imperfect, drafts, and I appreciate their advice to a student who was not their own but was finding her way across unfamiliar terrain.
I also thank most warmly lan Franklin for his friendly Support during my time in Cambridge. Anil Seal, a Trustee of the Livingstone Trust, has given me good advice, some of which I have taken. And I owe particular thanks to Mrs. Tina Bone who has done a splendid job in reducing a mound of manuscript to final typescript.
And lastly, I acknowledge with deep gratitude the sacrifices of my parents who gave me an education and an opportunity to contribute, in however small a way, to the endeavour by which the peoples of South Africa are beginning to take their place in the study of their society and to challenge the systems of thought which underpin it.
Chapter 1: Theoretical Debates and Methodological Controversies ↵
The practice of racism in South Africa has elicited various explanations, and a complex literature. Two competing configurations of theoretical analysis, generally classified as the 'liberal* and 'Marxist' schools, dominate the field of enquiry. Each points to fundamental weaknesses in the opposing paradigm, to what it ignores or excludes, and then suggests an alternative approach. It will be argued that both approaches, within the limits of their present theorisations, fail satisfactorily to explain racism in South Africa.
The Race-Class Debate
The 'race-class' debate introduced new modes of analysis to the historiography of South Africa. In the 1970s, a new school, variously known as Marxist, neo-Marxist or revisionist, challenged the view of the liberal paradigm that apartheid (and segregation before it) was independent of the logic of economic growth. Revisionists, such as Wolpe, Legassick and Johnstone, claimed that South Africa's economic system and racist practices were functionally compatible and structurally interdependent.1 For liberals and revisionists alike, the central question about apartheid has been the relationship between racist practices and capitalist development, the liberals emphasising that racism and capitalism were incompatible, while the revisionists argued that not only were they compatible but that capitalism actually determined racial policies. Neither the liberal nor the Marxist positions are unified and homogeneous, and both have generated several lines of enquiry. The discussion which follows focuses on the theoretical perspectives, concentrating upon one strand in the liberal approach typified by MacCrone's seminal work onRace Attitudes in South Africa,2 and, amongst Marxist positions, the structuralist functionalist approach.3
In the intellectual controversy about racism in South Africa, the liberals have tended to attribute purely psychological motives to its practitioners. Racist practice is construed as emanating from bias and prejudice, which in turn are held to be the determining factors. The Marxists, on the other hand, have conceptualised racism in terms of the accumulation of capital, the economy and its workings, and class analysis: racism is conceived as the effect of specific economic policies and is determined, in the last resort, by the economy.4
Liberal thinkers have tended to view racism as the root cause of South Africa's disequilibrium, the divisive factor in its life. MacCrone traced the evolution of the racial attitudes of Afrikaners to the Cape frontier in the eighteenth century, and to their primitive Calvinism, which took the particular form which it did in order to differentiate between Christian and heathen and between white and black.5 De Kiewiet also saw the later eighteenth and the early nineteenth century as the formative period in the development of a racism which has persisted to the present day: 'It was the conviction of the frontier that the foundations of society were race and the privileges of race’.6 For most liberals, racism is the consequence of irrational attitudes and prejudices, an out-dated legacy that the Afrikaner has brought with him into modern times. And it is precisely this 'irrational heritage' which, according to the liberals, has hindered South Africa's economic development and its transformation into a modern industrial society.7
The liberal analysis raises various issues. In the first place, racism, viewed in essentialistic terms, is conceived as primordial and given. It is seen as the fundamental unit of analysis whose meaning is derived outside the social structure and social relations. Racist practices owe their formation, unity and homogeneity to a single origin: racial attributes. In MacCrone's analysis, for example, racism is interpreted in psychologistic terms, and its history and practice are seen as the product of the irrational and tradition-bound psychology of the Afrikaner. Positing the prejudices of the Afrikaner as the causal principle of racism and of apartheid begs the question. This view also tends to neglect the changing forms of racist discourses. Racism is conceived as a constant, with static and inherent features, which remains unaffected by changing historical circumstance. But this dissertation will suggest that racism cannot be analysed simply in terms of its continuities, since there have been significant shifts in its meaning, forms, justifications and practices. In the seventeenth century racism emerged out of a multiplicity of discourses which made play of African difference and the distance between African society and European society. By the end of the eighteenth century this difference was taken as read: it allowed for the reification of the black as barbaric and uncivilized. Racist discourse took as given the gulf between African barbarism and European civilization. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, racism came to be legitimised by theories of evolution which designated blacks as members of a biologically inferior species. Racist discourses were still posited on the African as inferior, but that inferiority was now differently explained in ways which reflected fundamental changes taking place in western experience and thought.
Thirdly, the liberal explanation has tended to build its analysis around a since explanatory concept, (racial prejudice or racial attitudes), which is used to explain the practice of racism in South Africa. This is reductionist: racism and its complex practices cannot be studied within limits of a monocausal discourse. Instead, racism has to be conceptualised as a practice, or a set of practices, constituted by many heterogeneous discourses: legislations, institutions, administrative structures and measures, statements supposedly scientific, assertions, religious and moral or, as Foucault puts it, 'The said as much as the unsaid.'
Moreover, the liberal view that racist practices have handicapped the economic growth of South African has to be qualified. Indeed, there is evidence that South Africa's industrial transformation along capitalist lines, as well as changes in its agrestic relations, owes much to racist practices8 and that the relationship between racist practices and capitalist development has not been negative in every respect. Racist policies have arguably contributed to non-productive expenditures (for example, each 'homeland' depends for its policing and administrative machinery on the South African state), and segregation has sometimes interfered with the market economy, obstructing free enterprise by limiting domestic consumption and the mobility and training of labour. But the South African situation is complex and contradictory: racial practices have simultaneously served the interests of capitalist development and have got in their way.
It follows that the notion that racism is fundamentally incompatible with economic growth, and that economic growth will finally erode racism is too simple. It fails to take account of the autonomous constitution of racial identities; it does not explain the inwardness of the nationalisms of both the whites and the blacks; nor does it recognise that power relations postulated on race have an impact upon everyday life, which categorises the individual, attaches him to an identity and imposes a law of truth upon him which he and others have to recognise - all within a context dominated by the racial divide and the stark contrasts between black and white. In general, the liberal critique does not provide an adequate understanding of the entire spectrum of racism and its practices in South Africa, however much light it may throw on important aspects of it.
When the Marxists began their revisionist analysis of South Africa, they took issue with the primary role liberal theory has accorded to the variables of race and they emphasised instead the importance of class. They argued that apartheid and capitalism developed together and function together. By defining their position antithetically to that of the liberals, Marxist analyses amount to a reversal of liberal priorities: class gains primacy over race, and racist practices are seen as an integral element of South African capitalism. This oppositional relationship takes on a reactive form -either class or race is accorded analytic primacy. For example, Frederick Johnstone, in his pioneering study of the gold mining industry, claims that
Its general thesis .is that this racial system may be most adequately explained as a class system - as a system of class instruments... generated, and determined in its specific forms and its specific nature and functions, by the specific system of production and class structure of which it formed a part; and that these historical developments may most adequately be explained in terms of this explanation, and tend to confirm, as historical manifestations, the class nature of this system and thus the validity of this explanation.9
By explaining racist practices within the context of class, class becomes the primary variable. But revisionist analysis, although it has come a long way since the early 1970s, by the very terms in which it set up the race-class debate excludes other and different modes of enquiry which might perhaps have raised the level of that debate.10 The base-superstructure model continues to be used to explain South Africa's history and society. Class, analytically separate from the question of race, is what matters to the Marxists; class relations and capitalist growth are seen by them as the determinants of racial policies, which in their turn reflect the economic base.11
The base-superstructure model which underpins the early writings of Johnstone, as well as the work of Wolpe, Legassick, O'Meara and Davies, is reductionist. For example, even when O'Meara accepts the 'relative autonomy' of racial practices, he argues that 'variations in racial policy must be seen as flowing from changes in the structure of production and the Alignment of class forces in the social formation.12 In this way, the economistic methodology denies racial policy an autonomous role. From O'Meara's point of view, racial policies in South Africa are wholly dependent upon capitalist processes.
A similar problem emerges in Robert Davies' analysis in Capital, State and White Labour. While paying lip service to racial factors, Davies gives them a subordinate place in the argument by the very terms in which the objectives of his class analysis are formulated:
Contrary to the assertions of certain critics, the purpose of this analysis is not to deny the existence and importance of racist ideology and racial prejudice, but rather to see these as phenomena arising in the class struggle and therefore themselves requiring analysis and explanation instead of, as in the liberal problematic, the 'self evident' starting point of all 'analysis' and 'explanation'.13
Davies also sets out to account for racial practices in terms of class struggles. But, significantly, his formulation does not accept that class struggles themselves require analysis and explanation within the context of racist practices. So both O'Meara and Davies explain racist practices in economistic and unideterministic terms. O'Meara sees racist practices as 'superstructural', as epiphenomena of the economic structure, mechanically reflecting the latter and playing no specific or active part in the historical process. Davies' approach tends towards class reductionism, since his argument is founded upon the nature of the superstructures. He sees racist practices as determined by their position as agents in production relations.14
A central difficulty in these analyses is that racist practices are firmly placed inside a 'totalizing' explanatory scheme, in which the economy is the point of origin and the source from which a particular historical process emanates. It denies the autonomy of racism, operating within a context influenced by its own forms of rationality, historicity and power, the 'dividing practices', through which black and white identities were antagonistically and differentially 'naturalised' and which have affected every aspect of South Africa's social and political reality. As Stuart Hall remarked:
...racism is particularly powerful and its imprint on popular consciousness especially deep, because in such racial characteristics as colour, ethnic origin, geographical position, etc., racism discovers what other ideologies have to construct: an apparently 'natural' and universal basis in nature itself. Yet, despite this apparent grounding in biological givens, outside history racism, when it appears, has an effect on other ideological formations within the same society, and its development promotes a transformation of the whole ideological field in which it becomes operative. It can in this way, harness other ideological discourses to itself.15
A feature of the liberal and the Marxist schools of thought alike is that they both deploy single explanatory units, whether race or class,16 and they tend to exclude the very aspects of racism that are the familiar, solid, most intimate parts of the everyday black experience of apartheid. Class and race, the units of analysis of totalizing theories, provide useful tools for research, but they do so by asserting a unity in the theory and the practice of these discourses which perhaps does not exist. This has impeded the understanding of racism, and has stood in the way of the development of alternative lines of enquiry. Changing racist discourses and practices have been given a cloak of functionalist coherence and informal systemisation. Yet the essentially autonomous, local, and non-centralised, character of racism cannot be squeezed into these liberal and Marxist moulds. To use Foucault's language, liberals and Marxists have contributed to a 'subjugation of knowledges', knowledges that do not fit into or conform with their functionalist and systematising theories. They have dismissed subjugated knowledges as inadequate or naive, when in fact they constitute the popular experience of being black in South Africa. Subjugated knowledge is knowledge which is particular, local or regional, and such knowledge has not found a place within the limiting criteria of liberal and Marxist theorisations. This suggests that perhaps the liberal and Marxist approaches, rigid and restrictive in their different ways, have prevented some of the central problems in South Africa's complex history being fully understood.
The Marxist revisionist approach and some of the analytic problems; which it raises must be touched upon. In its turn, this may point the way to a somewhat different approach to understanding the practice of racism. The Marxist perspective argues that the practice of racism in South Africa must be understood in terms of the specific relations of production of South African capitalism and recognises that white supremacist policies both affect and actively disguise the nature of these relations. In O'Meara's words, 'racial policy':
...is an historical product, the agent of a system of exploitation (in the technical sense of surplus expropriation and appropriation) designed primarily to facilitate rapid capital accumulation, and has historically been used thus by all classes with access to State power in South Africa.17
This conception of the relationship between racial policy and the economic interests of the white ruling classes identifies, as Ernesto Laclau has pointed out, the two classical approaches in the Marxist tradition to the problem of ideology: ideology conceived as a level of social totality determined by the economy; and secondly, racial ideology as generating a false consciousness to disguise the nature of the real exploitative relations. Yet both approaches, as Laclau could see, are problematic: the first is grounded on an essentialist conception of society and the second on an essentialist conception of social agency.
According to the viewpoint of the structural Marxist, society is an intelligible totality which can 'fix the meaning of any element or social processoutside itself, that is, in asystem of relations with other elements’.18 Yet this view endows the relational system with a centre, and gives the economy pride of place. Laclau questions whether social totality can be defined in this way and suggests that the infinitude of the social exceeds the limits of any structural system; in other words, he argues that any structural system is... always surrounded by an excess of meaning which it is unable to master.'19
It is this very opaqueness of the social that O'Meara's theorization attempts to limit and to master; yet Laclau has suggested that the social is not reducible by the logic of closure or by the concept of a self-sufficient totality - it is arbitrary and contingent. In Laclau's view, O'Meara and others who share his approach are guilty of essentialism since they conceive of social formation in South Africa as merely an empirical variation of this essence, the base-superstructure totality. This dissertation will be posited on the assumption that racism as a practice does in fact possess an autonomy of its own, generating phenomena whose relationship with capital accumulation is either indirect or nonexistent, for example, the Immorality Act which prohibited whites from sexual relations with minors, the insane and blacks, or the white right-wing reactions to the 'rationalization' of apartheid policies such as the establishment of whites-only homelands. These examples exceed the explanatory potential of O'Meara's model.
Ideology as False Consciousness
The conceptualisation of ideology as false consciousness presupposes ‘a conception of human agency - a subject having an ultimate essential homogeneity whose misrecognition was postulated as the source of "ideology"’.20 The consciousness of the subject can only be false if the true identity of the subject can be established. But the excess of meaning and impossibility of a total 'structuration' renders impossible a homogeneous and non-contradictory identity. In O'Meara's terms, racial ideology prevents the subject from recognising the real conditions of his existence. But the excess of meaning renders impossible a homogeneous conception of 'real' relations. O'Meara is once again trapped inside an essentialist conception of 'real' relations, and he is unable to explain racial ideology, except as an empirical variation of his conception. As Laclau writes, 'each social formation has its own forms of determination and relative autonomy, and therefore cannot be established a priori.'21
Another problem which arises from conceiving racism as false consciousness is that it stands in virtual opposition to what is supposed to count as truth. Drawing a line between that in a discourse which falls under the category of truth and that which comes under some other category limits an understanding of how, historically, racist practices have produced effects of truth. The history of racism in South Africa did not simply unfold through the agency of economic forces and emerge in its present form. Neither can it be explained through a mere descriptive sociology of the beliefs and attitudes of successive generations of white South Africans. Rather, the standard of truth-falsity throughout is a necessary internal component, of racist discourse. But a history of this discourse has to be given form, and in turn must be verified against discourses which specified racist practices as true propositions about blacks. Their truth content was not only justified in terms of the environment, history and biology, but also of the 'veridical normativity' of their organisation as a practice: not their truth, but their relation to a truth. The relation between truth and historicity has thus been an important element both in the development of racist practices and in the rationale of racism in South Africa.
In this context truth means an ensemble of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation and functioning of statements negatively constructed by whites against blacks. Truth is also linked by a circular relation to systems of power which produce and sustain it. Thus, racist discourse, functioning as truth in South Africa, is not outside power; its relation to truth is derived historically; and the discourse emerges out of the many constraints which produce regulated effects of power over blacks. Therefore racism as a truth effect, or functioning as a discourse about blacks, causes the discourses to function as true. As Foucault remarked, each society has its 'regime of truth', its 'general politics of truth'. In this way apartheid in South Africa embodies the 'general politics of its truth'. Thus, racism in South Africa is not merely superstructural or a form of false consciousness; it has been an essential condition in the formation and development of South Africa.
This suggests that the liberal and the Marxist conceptualization of racism may be inadequate. The liberal approach is confined within a methodology and a problematic which is individualist, in which psychological attributes are determinants of racial practices and these practices in their turn are characterised in terms of Afrikaner prejudices and attitudes. The Marxist, on the other hand, sees racism as subordinate to the economy, precluding its essential autonomy in the functioning of South Africa's unique political system. Therefore, what; may be needed are new ways, in both the theoretical and practical spheres, of examining power relations which are racist.
In order to understand better what racism is, the philosopher and the social scientist need to know how racism is practised. Rather than enquiring what in a given period is regarded as racist or non-racist, it may be more what in a given period is regarded as racist or non-racist, it may be more useful to examine how these divisions worked. The basis of such an analysis cannot be ’institutions’, ‘theories’ ‘ideologies’, butpractices; the aim must be to grasp the conditions which make these practices acceptable at a particular juncture. This approach is governed by the hypothesis that racism is not merely determined by the economy or by attitudes; it is not simply prescribed by ideologies and guided by pragmatic circumstances (whatever role these circumstances may actually play), but possesses in significant measure its own specific regularities, logic, strategy, self-evidence and 'reason'. In Foucault's terms, the crux will be to analyze 'a regime of practices'. By 'practices' are meant what is said, where it is said, what is done, rules imposed and reasons given, always taking into account the points at which what is planned and what is taken for granted meet and interconnect. The analysis of 'a regime of practices' differs from the liberal and Marxist accounts which are structured around a single centre (the individual subject or the economy), and which aim to explain racism within a monolithic and planned discourse.
The investigation of 'regimes of practices' such as racism requires an enquiry into programmes of conduct which are prescriptive, and addresses the questions of what needs to be known about blacks and what is to be done on the basis of that knowledge (the effects of jurisdiction). Racism analysed as a 'practice' may show it to have been a principal, perhaps even an indispensable, component of the socio-political and economic system. But this is not self evident: it is important to question its self-evidence, demonstrate its precariousness, and to bring out not only its arbitrariness, but also its interconnections with a complex series of historical processes which continue right up to the present day.
Foucault's concept of 'dividing practices' provides a new mode of enquiry into racism, which may avoid some of the pitfalls into which the liberal and the Marxist approach have fallen.22 Through diverse procedures, blacks have been objectified by a process which has divided them amongst themselves, as well as dividing them from whites. In this process of social objectification, and categorization, blacks were given both a social and a personal identity. Racism as essentially 'dividing practices' are modes of manipulation that combine a mediation of racist discourses and practices of exclusions. This dissertation will attempt to uncover how, and in what form, the idea of 'dividing practices' has played a significant part in the emergence and functioning of racism in South Africa.
It will be argued that Foucault's approach may prove particularly appropriate for an analysis of racism since it provides a mode of enquiry which is not reductionist, and which depends on the concrete analysis of the particular historical conditions under which racism as a distinctive kind of practice is articulated in a social formation. Important to Foucault's analysis of cultural practices with other practices is the term 'dispositif', translated as 'apparatus' (which can be construed as a 'grid of intelligibility'); that grid is heterogeneous and includes 'discourses, institutions, architectural arrangements, regulations, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophic propositions, morality, philanthropy, etc.'23 By drawing on these different components, Foucault has suggested a range of flexible relationships and combined them into a single apparatus in order to isolate and in this way to throw light upon a specific historical problem.
This suggests that an understanding of the practice of racism in South Africa requires an examination of the many ways in which racism permeates the social and political body; it also calls for an analysis of how the practice of racism takes form, affecting other sectors, inducing new relationships between the macro-structures and the micro-structures, how it reacts upon the judicial, the administrative and the customary, the economy, the family, the school, medicine, and so on. In its turn this raises another important question which this dissertation will address, namely how racism cuts across and reconstructs the social and political domain, providing a new field for forces that are already present. Foucault's method may also prove useful in helping to draw more accurately the strategic and tactical maps of the practices of racism. So the point of departure in the study of racism which follows will not in the final instance be the economy, nor will it be the constituent subject; it will be practices whose intelligibility only emerges from studying the system of social and political, relations which racism underpins.
Their criticisms were directed against liberal historians such as C.W. de Kiewiet and W.M. Macmillan. In particular they challenged the arguments of TheOxford History of South Africa, M. Wilson and L. Thompson (eds) two Vols., (Oxford, 1969 and 1971); (see C. Saunders, TheMaking of the South African Past, Major Historians on Race and Class, (Cape Town, 1988), esp. pp. 95-101, 165-176; and K. Smith,The Changing Past: Trends in South African Historical Writing (Johannesburg, 1988), Chs. 4 and 5).
Among the revisionist texts, see H. Wolpe, ‘Industrialism and Race in South Africa’ inRace and Racialism, S. Zubaida (ed.) (London, 1970); F.R. Johnstone ‘White Prosperity and White Supremacy in South Africa Today’African Affairs, Vol. 69, No. 275 (April, 1970), pp. 125-140; S. Trapido, ‘South Africa in a Comparative Study of Industrialization’,Journal of Development Studies, No. 7 (1971); H. Wolpe, ‘Capitalism and Cheap Labour-Power in South Africa: from Segregation to Apartheid’,Economy and Society, Vol. 1, No. 4 (1972), pp.425-56; M. Legassick, ‘South Africa: Capital Accumulation and Violence’,Economy and Society, Vol. 3, No. 3 (1974), pp. 253-91; M. Legassick, ‘South Africa: Forced Labour, Industrialisation and Racial Differentiation’, inThe Political Economy of South Africa, R. Harris (ed.) (New York, 1975); and H. Wolpe, ‘The “White Working Class” in South Africa’,Economy and Society, Vol. 5, No. 2 (May, 1976), pp. 197-239 which outlined ‘an alternative conceptualization which begins from the mode of production’.
I.D. MacCrone,Race Attitudes in South Africa: Historical, Experimental and Psychological Studies (London, 1937). For a summary version of this argument, see I.D. MacCrone, ‘The Frontier Tradition and race Attitudes’,Race Relations Journal, Vol. 28 (1961), pp. 19-30.
These texts have been chosen specifically because their theoretical underpinnings have informed most currebt debates on the race-class question.
On the race-class debate, see Stuart Hall ‘Race, Articulation and Societies Structured in Dominance’,Sociological Theories: Race and Colonialism (UNESCO, London, 1980), pp. 305-345; D. Posel, ‘Rethinking the “Race-Class Debate” in South African Historiography’, paper prepared for a conference on ‘Southern Africa: Retrospect and Prospect’, Centre for African Studies, University of Edinburgh (May 30-June 1, 1983); H. Wolpe, ‘The Analysis of the Forms of the South African State’, ibid.; and H. Wolpe, ‘Towards and Analysis of the South African State’,International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 8 (1980), pp. 399-421; andRace, Class and the Apartheid State, (London, 1988).
According to MacCrone, who was Professor of Psychology and later Vice-Chancellor at the University of the Witwatersrand, historical investigation of racial prejudice should take the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as its point of departure since ‘the attitudes themselves, as they existed towards the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, are very similar to those we find displayed on all sides at the present time’. See MacCrone,Race Attitudes in South Africa, pp. 135-6. The argument that Afrikaner racial ideology had Calvinistic origins has recently been challenged in A. Du Toit, ‘No Chosen People: the Myth of the Calvinist Origins of Afrikaner nationalism and Racial Ideology’,African Historical Review, January, 1988.
C.W. de Kiewiet,A History of South Africa: Social and Economic, (London, 1941), p. 151.
For example, de Kiewiet wrote that ‘In South Africa the laws of Parliament are at war with the laws of economics. Apartheid is at variance with many of the essential requirements of a growing modern industrial society. In the modern world it is a dissipation of wealth not to use the energies and skills of the whole population, or to inhibit the full development of the productive powers of the whole population, or to inhibit the full productive powers of any class in the population. Economic development and the more effective utilization of the native labour force are inseparable.’, in C.W. de Kiewiet,The Anatomy of South African Misery, (London, 1956), p. 65. The phrase ‘irrational heritage’ was coined by Simon Marks in ‘Towards a People’s History of South Africa? Recent Developments in the Historiography of South Africa’ inPeople’s History and Socialist Theory R. Samuel (ed.) (London, 1981), p. 299; also see Smith,The Changing Past, pp. 136, 149
See F.R. Johnstone,Race, Class and Gold: a Study of Class Relations and Racial Discrimination in South Africa (London, 1976), in which he demonstrates the largely successful partnership between capitalist growth and racial policies in the early industrial phase. For the impact of expanding capitalism on the peasantry and on agrarian relations, see, for example, C. Bundy,The Rise and Fall of the South African Peasantry (London, 1979); M. Morris, ‘The development of capitalism in Southern African Agriculture: Class Struggle in the Countryside’,Economy and Society, 5 (1976), pp. 292-343; T. Keegan, ‘The Restructuring of Agrarian Class Relations in a Colonial Economy: the Orange River Colony, 1902-1910',Journal of Southern African Studies, 5 (1979), pp. 234-54; and for a general discussion, F. Cooper, ‘Peasants, Capitalists and Historians: a Review Article’,Journal of Southern African Studies, 7 (1981), pp 284-314.
Johnstone,Class, Race and Gold, p. 4.
The positions of these revisionists have however changed since 1978, but they still attempt to explain racism within the framework of class analysis by indicating the interdependence of of race and class, se F.R. Johnstone, ‘The Labour History of the Witwatersrand’,Social Dynamics, Vol. 4, No. 2 (December, 1978), pp. 101-8; and F.R. Johnstone, ‘ “Most Painful to our Hearts”: South Africa through the Eyes of the New School’,Canadian Journal of African Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1 (1982), pp. 5-26. Also reprinted inClass, Race and Gold (reprint, London, 1986), pp. 301-22.
See Johnstone,Class, Race and Gold, esp. Introduction and Conclusion; R.H. Davies,Capital, State and White labour in South Africa: 1900-1960. An Historical Analysis of Class Formations and Class Relations (Brighton, 1979), esp. pp. 1-35; and M. Lipton,capitalism and Apartheid: South Africa, 1910-1986 (Aldershot, 1986), in which she began her analysis ‘almost entirely in terms of economic and class interests’ (p. 10), but ends by saying that they were ‘necessary... but... not sufficient’ and concludes that ‘Apartheid cannot simply be explained as the outcome of capitalism or of racism. Its origins lie in the complex interaction between class interests... and racism’ (pp. 365-76).
D. O’Meara, ‘The 1946 African Mineworkers’ Strike and the Political Economy of South Africa’,Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, (July 1975), Vol. 13, No. 2; also see D. O’Meara,Volkskapitalisme: Class, Capital and Ideology in the Development of Afrikaner Nationalism, 1934-1948, (Cambridge, 1983), esp. pp. 3-17.
Davies,Capital, State and White Labour, p.3. Among the critics Davies had in mind were B.S. Kantor and H.F. Kenny, in ‘The Poverty of Neo-Marxism: the Case of South Africa’,Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1, (October 1976). For a slashing counter-attack, dismissing the Kantor and Kenney critique as ‘incoherent and misplaced’, and rejecting ‘the alternative explanations’ as ‘totally inadequate’, see H. Wolpe, ‘A Comment on the “Poverty of Neo-Marxism”’,Journal of Southern African Studies, (1979), pp. 240-56.
On these forms of economism within the Marxist tradition, see ‘Recasting Marxism: Hegemony and New Political Movements’, Interview with Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe conducted by David Plotke,Social Review, (October, 1981), pp. 91-113. See also E. Laclau and C. Mouffe, ‘Recasting Marxism: Hegemony and New Political Movements’,Socialist Review, 1982, Vol. 12, pp. 91-113. E. Laclau and C. Mouffe,Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics, W. Moore and P. Cannack (trans.) (London, 1985).
Hall, ‘Race, Articulation and Societies Structured in Dominance’, inSociological Theories, p. 342.
For a recent effort to escape from ‘a class and a race reductionism’, while maintaining ‘within defined limits, the concepts of capital accumulation and of class relations as the primary points of analytical reference’, see H. Wolpe, ‘Class Concepts, Class Struggle and Race’, paper presented to a Conference on Ethnic and Race Relations, 19-23 March, 1984, St. Catherine’s College, Oxford.
See O’MEARA, ‘The 1946 African Mineworkers’ Strike’,Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics (July, 1975), Vol. 13, No. 2. According to O’MEARA it follows that an understanding of race relations in South Africa must be rooted in a conception of the specific relations of production of South African capitalism, and the manner in which racial laws and policies both affect and actively operate to disguise the nature of these relations.
E. Laclau, ‘The Impossibility of Society’,Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory, 1983, Vol. 7, p. 22.
Ibid., p. 21.
Ibid., p. 21.
The best known examples in Foucault's work on 'dividing practices' are the procedures involved in separating the sane from the insane and the confinement of criminals, respectively inMadness and Civilization andDiscipline and Punish.
M. Foucault, Power/Knowledge; selected interviewsand other Writings, 1972-77, C. Gordon (ed.), (Brighton, 1980). p. 194.
Chapter 2: Questions Method ↵
Exposition of Foucault’s Texts1
Genealogy and History
Foucault's method of genealogical analysis is different from traditional forms of historical analysis; its aim is to 'record the singularities of events outside of any monotonous finality.2 In terms of the genealogical method there are no fixed essences, no metaphysical finalities and no underlying laws. Genealogy seeks out discontinuity where others find continuity. It finds rupture and recurrences where others find progress and growth. Genealogical avoids the search for depth, it seeks instead the surfaces of events, minor details and small shifts. InNietzsche, Freud, Marx, Foucault writes, 'whereas the interpreter is obliged to go to the depth of things, like an excavator, the moment of interpretation (genealogy) is like an overview, from higher and higher up, which allows the depth to be laid out in front of him in a more and more profound visibility; depth is resituated as an absolutely superficial secret'.3 Genealogy thus opposes depth and finality. Identities must be mistrusted in historical analysis since they camouflage appeals to unity. The genealogist has to reveal 'the secret that (things) have no essence, or that their essence was fabricated in a piecemeal fashion from alien forms'.4
Foucault argues that if
history is the violent and surreptitious appropriation of a system of rules, which in itself has no essential meaning, in order to impose a direction, to bend it to a new will, to force its participation in a different game, and to subject it to secondary rules, then the development of humanity is a series of interpretations.5
Genealogy attempts to record the history of these interpretations. Universals and fixed essences are revealed as the result of the arbitrary and contingent consequences of imposed interpretations. According to Foucault, traditional or 'total' history situates events into grand explanatory systems and linear processes, celebrating individuals and great movements, seeking to record a specific point of origin for a particular historical process, whereas genealogical analysis ('effective' or 'general' history) tries to establish and retain the singularity of events, avoiding the spectacular in favour of the neglected, the discredited, and that wide field of phenomena whose histories have been subjugated (such as reason, punishment, sexuality). Genealogy thus rejects the search for the origin, and looks instead for historical beginnings which are arbitrary, complex, lowly and contingent.6
In his discussion of genealogical analysis Foucault refers to two interrelated elements: first, genealogy as the examination of descent and, second, genealogy as the analysis of emergence. In the analysis of descent there is no uninterrupted development of continuity; instead it attempts to uncover the multiplicity of factors behind an event to preserve events in their appropriate dispersion and 'to identify the accidents, the minute deviations... the errors... that gave birth to those things that continue to exist and have value for us'.7 The rejection of uninterrupted continuity in history produces an awareness of the complexity, fragility and contingency of historical forms and events.
The emphasis in genealogical analysis falls upon the body or more specifically upon 'the articulation of the body and history'. Genealogy in this way establishes that nothing is stable; even man's physiology and nature do not escape the play of historical forces. Foucault writes:
The body is moulded by a great many distinct regimes; it is broken down by the rhythms of work, rest and holidays; it is poisoned by food or values, through eating habits or moral laws; it conducts resistances.8
Another element in genealogical analysis is the examination of emergence, not as 'the final term of an historical development', but as a particular stage in the struggle or confrontation of forces. Historical developments are seen as transitory manifestations of relationships of domination and subordination, and as temporary embodiments of the underlying relationships of forces. The analysis of emergence with its forms of relations of domination enables genealogy to examine the confrontations and conflicts which produce historical events and developments. Historical developments, according to Foucault, are not to be seen as culminations of historical process, intentions or design, but as episodic manifestations of a series of subjugations or temporary manifestations of a stage in the play of dominations.
Genealogy conceptualizes the emergence of a particular event or development as the entry or eruption of forces for which no subject can be held responsible. Genealogy, conceptualized as the analysis of descent and of emergence, is therefore opposed to traditional history. Genealogy tries to reveal the historicity of properties and objects which have been considered a historical, such as feelings, ideals, morality and the physiology of the body. Genealogy also focuses on subjugated knowledges-the discredited, the lowly - and on periods which have been neglected: 'It shortens its vision to those things nearest it - the body, the nervous system... it unearths the periods of decadence',9 and it celebrates the perspectivity of knowledge.
Foucault argues that historians subordinate events to extra-historical mechanisms or structures. Genealogical analysis, in contrast, focuses upon events and upon singularities. By rediscovering the complex factors and processes which constitute an event, it seeks to disrupt the quality of self-evidence attributed to events by the use of historical constants and the application of anthropological traits. This requires it to be shown that 'things weren't as necessary as all that; it wasn't a matter of course that mad people came to he regarded as mentally ill; it wasn't self-evident that the only thing to be done with a criminal was to lock him up; it wasn't self-evident that the causes of illness were to be sought through the individual examination of bodies'.10 In this way genealogical analysis gives expression to subjugated knowledges, to histories which have been neglected or 'lost within totalizing and globalizing systems. More importantly, genealogical, analysis is opposed to the scientific hierarchization of knowledges and their effects, its status being that of an anti-science. The methods, concepts and contents of science are not the object of Foucault's criticism, but rather the consequences and effects of 'centralising powers... linked to the institutions and functioning as an organised scientific discourse in our society.11
In Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault argues that the various distinctions between the dominant discourse such as science, literature, philosophy, religion, history or fiction, should not be accepted as distinct unities; instead judgement should be suspended and the self-evidence of these unities should be questioned. The task of analysis is the discovery of the conditions from which specific discourses emerge and this involves not only the discursive but also by necessity the articulation between discursive and non-discursive practices. This is of great potential importance to the study of racism since the forms of Foucault's analysis are net confined to the human sciences but encompass many forms of knowledges. As Foucault himself writes,
Archaeological, territories may extend to 'literary' or 'philosophical' texts, as well as scientific ones. Knowledge is to be found not only in demonstrations, it can also be found in fiction, reflexion; narrative accounts, institutional regulations and political decisions.12
A range of evidence is used to investigate the conditions out of which discourses have emerged. In Foucault's later works, however, there is a marked shift in emphasis; they show an increasing concern with relationships of power and knowledge, and the effects of powers that are linked to the scientific hierarchization of discourses. This shift, which owed much to his genealogical research, stresses the importance of 'the union of erudite knowledge and local memories which allows us to establish an historical knowledge of struggles and to make use of this knowledge tactically today'.13 Thus genealogy gives expression to the discredited and resurrects subjugated knowledges rather than excluding or subordinating them.
In Foucault's books Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, the concepts of power and power-knowledge are of extreme significance. By identifying the exercise of power as the focus of genealogical analysis, Foucault isolates and conceptualizes the way in which the body has, in modern society, become a necessary component for the operation of power relations. From the outset he was interested in the body as investigated by scientists and in the power over bodies which institutions possess. He argues that the combination of knowledge and power, localised in the body, forms a general mechanism of power which is of great importance for Western society. Towards the end of the paperNietzsche, Genealogy, History Foucault raises the problem of knowledge. He argues that knowledge is enmeshed in the petty malice of the conflict of dominations. Knowledge did not
slowly detach itself from its empirical roots, the initial needs from which it arose, to become pure speculation subject only to the demands of reason... where religions once demanded the sacrifice of bodies, knowledge now calls for experimentation on ourselves, calls us to the sacrifice of the subject of knowledge.15
Everything is potentially caught up in the networks of power, which are increasingly linked with the advance of knowledge. Thus, for Foucault, power and knowledge are not external to one another; they operate in history in a mutually generative way.16
Foucault's conceptualisation of power is not based on a juridical or economic conception of power. Instead his analysis of power can be interpreted as an attempt to invert the dominant modes of analysis of power. In these modes, power is construed in terms of the entire discourse of 'right' ever since the Middle Ages, or, in Marxist formulations, the economic functionality of power or, in Reich's hypothesis, as repression. In contrast, the focus of Foucault's work is upon the reality of domination. He tries to show not only how right is, in a general way, the instrument of domination... but also to
show the extent to which, and the forms in which, right (not simply the laws but the whole complex of apparatuses, institutions and regulations responsible for their application) transmits and puts in motion relations that are not relations of sovereignty, but of domination.17
This conception of power is not situated in terms of an individual or institution or even a class of people, but of the multiplicity of forms by which domination is exercised within a society.
If power is to be addressed in terms of domination and subjugation without being confined by legalistic conceptions of right, sovereignty and obedience, then, according to Foucault, specific methodological precautions are necessary. He outlines five, such precautions about the form, level, effect, direction and 'ideology' of power. The first methodological rule involves the examination of power at its extremities, particularly its local and regional forms, while 'bracketing' tile legitimate and centralized forms of power. The second rule suggests that the analysis of power be based not on the idea of conscious intention but on the point of application i.e. the point at which power itself is in direct relationship with its object. By observing this methodological rule, questions such as 'Who has power?' or 'What are the intentions of those who exercise power?' become less important than the examination of the processes by which subjects are constituted as effects of power. The third rule emphasizes that power ought not to be conceptualized as a property belonging to an individual or a class. Power is not 'appropriated' are a commodity or wealth; rather it has the character of a network which extends everywhere. Individuals do not possess power, they constitute its effects -'the elements of its articulation... its vehicle'.18 The fourth methodological rule proposes that the analysis of power should begin at a micro-level in order to reveal how mechanisms of power have been utilized by macro-forms of domination. In Foucault's terms the analysis of power should be ascending rather than descending. This involves examining how techniques of power operating at the level of routine and everyday life have been appropriated by 'more general powers' and by economic 'interests' rather than conceptualizing power as located at the top of the social order and descending through the entire social domain. The final methodological rule draws attention to the power-knowledge relation which connects the exercise of power, and the production of knowledge. For example, Foucault's analysis of the emergence of a discipline, a specific form of power, shows that the methods and mechanisms of power were formed and developed alongside the constitution of the terrain from which the science of man emerged.19
In Discipline and Punish Foucault introduces a 'strategical' conception of power in order to facilitate an analysis of power relations invested in the body. Foucault explains that 'the body is also directly involved in a political field; power relations have an immediate hold upon it; they invest it, mark it, train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs'.20 Power, for Foucault, is not an irresistible force; it may exert pressures, but these in turn may be resisted. This in turn leads Foucault to talk in terms of power and resistance.
In Foucault's analysis, power is seen as being exercised through "disposition, manoeuvres, tactics, techniques, functionings'. Power relations are not localised in confrontations between individuals and the state or social classes; instead they are considered as existing at the most elemental level of the social body and constituting it as well. Power relations are thus conceptualised in terms of innumerable points of confrontation, each of which entails an irreducible event. Such a 'micro-physics' of power might be considered to be equivalent with sociality itself.
Foucault describes power as a multiplicity of relations, as a process and a strategy which receives institutional embodiment in ‘the state apparatus, in the formulation of the law, in the various social hegemonies’.21 Power is described as the appropriate term for the unstable state which arises from the inequalities present in the highly mobile field of force relations. Power relations are not subordinated to economic, sexual and ideological relationships. Instead, power relations are conceived as both 'the immediate effects of the divisions, inequalities and disequilibriums which occur in the latter, economic processes, knowledge relationships, sexual relations] and as the internal conditions of these differentiations'.22 By rejecting the conceptions of power relations in terms of a global binary opposition between the ruling class and the subordinated classes, Foucault recommends instead a conception of major forms of domination as the 'hegemonic effects' which have emerged from the multiplicity of micro-powers.23
Power Over Life24
In developing an analysis of a more appropriate strategical conception of power, Foucault argues that the transformations in the nature of the exercise of power may be seen as a change in the conception of power not as a 'right to take life or let live', but as a force which fosters life. Foucault explains that the development of a power over life assumed two basic forms. First an anatomo-politics of the human body, and second a bio-politics of the population.
The notion of anatomo-politics of the body refers to the techniques of power which come to be exercised over bodily capabilities in order to maximise their economic utility and political docility. Bio-politics of the population involve the forms in which a power over life developed. In this case the population and the social order became the object of techniques of power, the focus of their aims being the social conditions affecting the biological processes of life, such as reproduction, mortality and health. The emergence of these techniques to subjugate bodies and regulate populations is considered by Foucault as marking the beginning of the era of bio-power, a power over life. Bio-power is constituted by a corpus of knowledges and techniques of power which have developed on the basis of the calculability and transformability of human life. And it is here that the logic of sexuality plays a significant role, since for Foucault it is through control over sexual relations that access may be gained to the 'individual' body and to the population at large, to the private and the public.
Anatomo-Politics of the Body25
In explaining the political rationality of the present, Foucault distinguishes between two developments. First an increasing centralisation of political power in the form of the state, and secondly the emergence of technologies of power directed to individuals. He stresses the importance of the second development - the study of individualizing forms of power. It is at this point that he examines the body as the central target of control. Foucault analyses a 'political technology of the body in which might be read a common history of power relations and object relations.'26 These relations are complex and it is their mutual production, historical interconnections and their genealogy which Foucault describes inDiscipline and Punish. The position taken by Foucault is that
power isn't localised in the State apparatus that, nothing in society will be changed if the mechanisms of power that function outside, below and alongside the State apparatuses, on a much more minute and everyday level, are not also changed.27
From this follows the significance of the notion of 'the social' in Foucault's work, the area in which positive, productive, local and individualizing forms of power have emerged and been exercised.
Foucault refers in particular to specific events and transformations that had occurred during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to a process of reversal of the 'axis of individualization' towards the collection of files, documents and information on individuals over whom power was to be exercised, thereby generating an individuality of the 'calculable man'. This mutation coincided with the emergence and expansion of new forms of the exercise of power. Thus, techniques for the formation and administration of individuals were adopted for the regulation of the social, which in turn were inextricably linked with the emergence of new 'rationalities', the human sciences, and with new forms of knowledge. Once the inter-dependence between relations of power and forms of knowledge was recognised, a conception of power-knowledge relations emerged. In his discussion of the change's that took place in the forms of punishment and the function of the prison, Foucault explains that the shift of focus from the body as the immediate target of the exercise of power (punishment) to the 'soul' or 'knowable man' construed in terms of psyche, subjectivity, consciousness and individuality, was the product of new forms of power and new forms of knowledge.
Foucault also makes the point that prisons and the ideal forms of punishment are the distinctly articulated expressions of more generalized practices of disciplining both individuals and populations. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries these tactics were extended with extreme rigour to other sectors of the population, places of reform, and administrations of control. The prison, the school or the hospitals are not really Foucault's targets; he is concerned above all with disciplinary procedures themselves.28
According to Foucault, discipline is a technique and not an institution. It is appropriated by certain institutions 'such as schools, hospitals and the police, but it is not identifiable with any of these. Discipline, does not merely replace other forms of power which are already in existence in society, instead it 'invests' or colonizes them, connecting them together, extending their hold, making them more efficient and 'above all making it possible to bring the effects of power to the most minute and 'distant elements'.29
The process of diffusion of discipline throughout the social domain is described by Foucault as the formation of a disciplinary society. In a disciplinary society the body is taken as an object to be analysed and separated into its constituent parts. The aim of disciplinary technology is to construct a 'docile body', 'that may be subjected, used, transformed and improved'.30 How does this work? Foucault explains firstly that the body is divided into units, for example, the legs and arms. These are taken separately and are made the objects of precise and calculated training. The goal here is control and efficiency of operation both for the part and the whole. The key to disciplinary power is the construction of a 'micro-power', beginning with the body as the object to be manipulated and controlled. In the second place, the army and the schools of the Classical Age gradually developed techniques and tactics to treat individuals as objects to be moulded, not subjects to be heard. Exercise of bodies became a central part of the workings of power, since it concentrated primarily on the internal coordination of the movement of the bodies of soldiers. The focus was on the formal organization and disciplined response of the constituent parts of the body. Thirdly, according to Foucault, micro-power is directed towards a different use of time. If disciplinary power is to be effective, it has constantly to strive to reduce bodies to docility. As the operation of discipline becomes standardised and efficient, it necessitates a constant and regular application. In this way the goal that is desired merges with the techniques designed to achieve it. To achieve this ideal of complete docility (and the correlated increase of power), space and time and motion must be codified and exercised continuously and intensively. For this reason, as Foucault shows, disciplinary techniques became more economic, technical, analytic, and utilitarian during the Classical Age.
The historical moment of the disciplines was the moment when an art of the human body was born, which was directed not only at the growth of its skills, nor at the justification of its subjection, but at the formation of a relation that in the mechanism itself makes it more obedient as it becomes more useful, and conversely.... The human body was entering a machinery of power that explores it, breaks it down and rearranges it.... Discipline produces subjected and practised bodies, docile bodies.31
Foucault explains that the control of space became an integral part of this technology, since discipline also develops by the organization of individuals in space and it consequently requires a specific enclosure of space, as in the case of the hospital and school which create a grid of order. Once this space is established resistance diminishes, since controlled space structures the distribution of the individuals to be disciplined and supervised.
Foucault describes the internal organization of space in disciplinary technology as depending on the idea of elementary partitioning into regular units. Organised space is based on the principle of presences and absence. When the grid is established, the principle reads: 'Each individual has his own place; and each place its individual'.32 Individuals are thus placed, transformed and observed in an efficient and economic way. In order to achieve an operation which is as efficient and productive as possible, it becomes necessary to find individuals who fit the definition proposed, to locate them in an ordered space and to achieve the distinction of functions in the structure of space in which they will operate. In addition, all the space, in the confined area has to be ordered and there should be no waste, no gaps, nothing should escape. Foucault explains 'In discipline, the elements are interchangeable, since each is defined by the space it occupies in a series, and by the gap that separates it from the others.'33 Disciplinary space is achieved on the coding of this 'structural' organization.
Discipline, according to Foucault, operates differently and in a precise manner upon bodies. 'Discipline "makes" individuals; it is the specific technique of a power that regards individuals both as objects and as instruments of its exercise.'34 It does this through procedures of training and distribution. It operates through hierarchical observation and normalizing judgement. According to Foucault they combine into a central technique of disciplinary power - namely the examination. Central to the notion of examination is the element of hierarchical observation. The aim here is to make surveillance the integral element of control and production.35 The act of being looking over or watched is a significant means by which individuals are controlled in a disciplinary space. Foucault explains that the control of bodies depends on optics of power. One of the first models of this control 'via' surveillance, through the systematic gaze and through the ordered spatial structure, was the military camp. It was here that total organisation and observation were made possible. Foucault goes on to show how the achievements of this model were extended through the constructions of urban schemes, prisons, working class housing projects, schools and so on.
Increasing hierarchical observation and surveillance affected architectural design. An example cited by Foucault was the construction of an Ecole Militaire to 'Train vigorous bodies, the imperative of health... create obedient soldiers, the imperative of politics; prevent debauchery and homosexuality, the imperative of morality'.36 The means for accomplishing these purposes were in part architectural. The building was constructed with long; halls of monastic cells, each set of ten cells had an officer, each individual was sealed off and separated from his neighbour but there were peepholes so that he could be observed. These and many others seemingly minor details were an essential part of the disciplinary technology. Individualization and observation were combined within this space.
These observational devices were extended into the productive apparatus. Surveillance took on a crucial economic function while simultaneously carrying out its disciplinary role. Through the development of surveillance in factories power became organized as 'multiple, automatic and anonymous'.37 People carried it out, but it was the organization that made it successful. 'Supervisors, perpetually supervised'. According to Foucault, this meant that, in industrial society, power and efficiency were combined in a system and space and production were linked through optics of surveillance.
According to Foucault, not only has power generated individuality in the field of observation, but it fixes that objective individuality in the field of writing. A vast and meticulous documentary apparatus becomes a necessary component of the growth of power. The dossiers make it possible for the authorities to construct an objective codification of the population. More knowledge leads to more specification. The accumulation of individual documentation in a systematic order makes 'possible the measurement of overall phenomena, the description of groups, the characterization of collective facts, the calculation of the gaps between individuals, their distribution in a given "population"'.38
This compilation of data, the emergence of dossiers, and the continuous opening up of new areas of research developed, according to Foucault, concurrently with the refinement of disciplinary techniques for observing and analysing, the body so as to make it more accessible to manipulation and control. The development and diffusion of methods for administering populations are linked to economic production and techniques for the -accumulation of capital. As Foucault has commented,
If the economic take-off of the West began with the techniques that made possible the accumulation of capital, it might perhaps be said that the methods for administering the accumulation of men made possible a political take-off in relation to the traditional, ritual, costly, violent forms of power, which soon fell into disuse and were superseded by a subtle, calculated technology of subjection. In fact the two processes - the accumulation of men and the accumulation of capital - cannot be separated; it would not have been possible to solve the problem of the accumulation of men without the growth of an apparatus of production capable of both sustaining them and using them; conversely, the techniques that made the cumulative multiplicity of men useful accelerated the accumulation of capital.39
For Foucault, the birth of the sciences of man 'is probably to be found in... "ignoble" archives, where the modern play of coercion over bodies, gestures and behaviour has its beginnings'.40 The social sciences (psychology, demography, criminology, etc.) were first situated in particular institutions of power (hospitals, prisons, administrations) where their work became one of specialization. These discourses developed their own criteria and rules of evidence, their own ways of inclusion and exclusion, and their own disciplinary divisions within the larger context of disciplinary technologies. Foucault concludes that the disciplinary technology of power to produce docile and productive bodies
called for a technique of overlapping subjection and objectification .... The carceral network constituted one of the armatures of this power-knowledge that has made the human sciences historically possible. Knowable man (soul, individuality, consciousness, conduct, whatever it is called) is the object-effect of this analytical investment, of this domination-observation.41
Foucault explains that it was only in the seventeenth century that 'bio-power' emerged as a coherent political technology. Bio-power marks the period when the fostering of life and the growth and care of populations became the central concern of the state. This represented a new type of political rationality; according to Foucault, there now developed an entire corpus of knowledges, techniques of power, and associated effects based on a conception of the calculability and transformability of human life. It is here that Foucault discusses the topic of sexuality, since it is through sex that access may be gained to the 'individual' body and to the population.42
Foucault explains that during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries sexuality became the object of scientific analysis, administrative control and social concern. To physicians and social scientists sexuality provided the answer to problems of individual health and of identity. The elaboration of a new symbolic of sexuality enabled the bourgeoisie to separate themselves from the working classes on the basis of their 'blood'. In Foucault's terms sexuality emerges as the central element in a strategy of power which brought not only the individual but the population as a whole under the net of bio-power. Foucault also explains that through the deployment of sexuality bio-power spread its hold over the minutest details of the body and the 'soul'. This was achieved by constructing a specific technology - namely the confession of the individual subject in speech and in self-reflection. Through the technology of confession several factors were brought together in Foucault's analysis of bio-power: the body, knowledge, discourse and power.
According to Foucault the historical development of sexuality as a distinctive discourse came to be linked with various discourses and practices of power at the beginning of the eighteenth century. He explains that a 'technical incitement to talk about sex' developed simultaneously with the administrative concern for the welfare of the population. Empirical studies, and the scientific classification of sexual activity took place in the context of a concern for life. At first they were very much under the influence of religious discourse, but gradually demography and police administration began at an empirical level to investigate issues such as prostitution, population statistics, and the spread of disease. Foucault writes
Sex was not something one simply judged; it was a thing one administered. It was in the nature of a public potential; it called for management procedures; it had to be taken charge of by analytic discourses. In the eighteenth century, sex became a 'police' matter.43
The increasing concern with statistical studies of the population illustrates this. Foucault explains how, during the eighteenth century, demography and its connected fields were gradually formed into disciplines. Administrations approached the population as something to be known, controlled, taken care of, made to flourish:
...it was necessary to analyse the birthrate, the age of marriage, the legitimate and illegitimate births, the precocity and frequency of sexual relations, the ways of making them fertile or sterile, the effects of unmarried life or of the prohibitions, the impact of contraceptive practices...."44
In order to control and regulate the population, administrations in the eighteenth century began instituting procedures of intervention in the sexual life of individuals. Developing from these political and economic concerns, sex became an issue involving the State and the individual.
In the nineteenth century, according to Foucault, a major shift occurred in the discourse on sexuality which now came to be discussed in medical terms. This transformation involved the separation of a medicine of sex from the medicine of the body. This separation was based on the isolation of 'a sexual "instinct" capable of presenting constitutive anomalies, acquired derivations, infirmities, or pathological processes.45 Through these scientific interventions sexuality was connected to a form of knowledge and established a further connection between the individual, the group and control.46
Foucault then distinguishes between sex and sexuality. Sex is construed as a family matter. 'It will be granted no doubt that relations of sex gave rise, -in every society, to adeployment of alliance’.47 Until the end of the eighteenth century many of the Western codes of law were based on this 'deployment of alliance'. This meant that the discourse on sex was articulated through religious and legal obligations of marriage, codes for the transmission of property and the ties of kinship. These codes generated statuses, allowed and disallowed certain forms of actions, and constituted a social system. By means of marriage and procreation, alliance was linked to the exchange and transfer of wealth, property and power.
Foucault refers to sexuality as the historical form of discourse and practice which separates sex from alliance. Sexuality is an individual matter, it involves hidden private pleasures, fantasies and dangerous excesses of the body. Sexuality was seen as the very essence of the individual. It made possible the knowledge of the secrets of an individual's body and mind through the intervention of doctors, psychiatrists and others to whom the individual confessed his private thoughts and experiences. In Foucault's terms this constitutes the deployment of sexuality in which the personalization, medicalization and signification of sex occurred at a specific historical conjuncture.
Foucault distinguishes four great 'strategic unities' in which power and knowledge combined in particular mechanisms formulated around sexuality during the production and dispersion of discourses on sexuality. The first involves the hysterization of women's bodies which were analysed as being saturated with sexuality. Through the knowledge gained in medicine, the female body was isolated 'by reason of a pathology intrinsic to it; whereby, finally, it was placed in organic communication with the social body (whose regulated fecundity it was supposed to ensure)...'.48 According to Foucault, all the elements of the deployment of sexuality are present here; through medical discourses, the personal identity of the woman and the future health of the population are combined in a bond of knowledge, power and the materiality of the body.
The second strategic unity deals with the pedagogization of children's sex. This discourse was based on the idea that children are endowed with a sexuality that is both natural and dangerous. As a result, both the individual and the entire population were linked in their efforts to take charge of this ambiguous potential. Masturbation was treated as an epidemic; consequently, elaborate measures of surveillance, techniques of control, endless moralizing, incessant demands for vigilance, continual incitement- t-o guilt, architectural constructions, appeals to family honour and the lessons from advances in medicine, were all mobilized to eradicate masturbation. This assault, upon masturbation did not so much curb sexuality as increase the production of power. As Foucault explains, 'Always relying on this support, power advanced, multiplied its relays and its effects, while its target expanded, subdivided and branched out, penetrating further into reality at the same pace'.49
The third strategy involved the socialization of procreative behaviour. Here the married couple were given medical and social responsibilities. In terms of the State the couple now had a duty towards society; they had to protect it from pathogenic influences that a careless sexuality might have upon the population. Thus careful attention was paid to the regulation of procreation. It was held that the failure to monitor and control an individual's sexuality could endanger the health of both the family and the social body. By the end of the nineteenth century "An entire social practice, which took the exasperated but coherent form of a state-directed racism, furnished the technology of sex with a formidable power and far-reaching consequences'.50 It is under these conditions that the eugenics movements can be understood.
The fourth strategy was based on the psychiatrization of perverse pleasure. In terms of Foucault's analysis, sex was construed as an instinct. It was believed that this instinctual drive operated at both biological and the psychic level. Thus the nature of an individual was inextricably linked with the sexual instinct. Sexual science, in Foucault's terms, constructed a vast scheme of anomalies, of perversions, and of species of deformed sexualities. According to Foucault, the establishment of these species in scientific, terms facilitated the specification and monitoring of individuals. An entire domain arose for the detailed chronicling and "emulation of individual life. Here, just as in the other three strategies, the body, the new sexual science, and the demand for regulation and surveillance, were connected. Foucault argues that ever since the nineteenth century sex has been seen as the hidden causal principle, the secret meaning to be discovered everywhere.
It is the name that can be given to a historical construct: not a furtive reality that is difficult to grasp, but a great surface network in which the stimulation of bodies, the intensification of pleasures, the incitement to discourse, the formation of special knowledges, the strengthening of controls and resistances, are linked to one another, in accordance with a few major strategies of knowledge and power.51
For Foucault, sex provides the connection between biology and the normative practices of bio-power. The categorization of sex as an essentially natural function led to the channelling and controlling of sexuality. Foucault explains that the cultural construction of sex as a biological instinct made it possible for it to be linked up with the micro-practices of bio-power.
...sex is the most speculative, most ideal, and most internal element in a deployment of sexuality organized by power in its grip on bodies and their materiality, their forces, energies, sensations and pleasures.52
The recurring theme of Foucault's texts is the examination of the concrete functioning of power in Western societies. In a self-characterisation of his work, he wrote, ‘My objective has been to create a history of the different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects’.53
His schema of the three modes of objectification of the subject provide a convenient way of summarising the main themes in his texts. The first mode of objectification of the subject is called 'dividing practices', in which the subject is objectified by a process of division either within himself or from others’,54 for example, the criminal and the insane. These dividing practices form a substantial part ofMadness and Civilization, The Birth of the Clinic andDiscipline and Punish. The second mode of the objectification of individuals is connected to, but interdependent from, the first. It deals with
the modes of enquiry which try to give themselves the status of sciences; for example, the objectivizing of the speaking subject ingrammaire generale, philology, and linguistics... |or| the objectivizing of the productive subject, the subject who labours, in the analysis of wealth and of economics. Or... the sheer fact of being alive in natural history or biology.55
This 'scientific classification' of subjects is the subject-matter ofThe Order of Things andThe Archaeology of Knowledge. The third mode for turning individuals into objectified subjects can be called 'subjectification'. It concerns 'the way a human being turns him - or herself - into a subject'.56Here Foucault examines the process of self-formation of the individual. For example, he shows that during the nineteenth century there existed a vast proliferation of scientific discourses about 'sex', and this was at least in part because sex was seen as the key to self-understanding, a trend in thinking which was to culminate in Freud. Here the health of the population and the controls over the individual are combined in a common set of concerns, and these processes of subjectification are examined inHistory of Sexuality andDiscipline and Punish.
The Methodological Implications of Foucault's Analysis
Individuality is neither the real atomistic basis of society nor an ideological illusion of liberal economics, but an effective artefact of a very long and complicated historical process. (Foucault)
There are two aspects to the implications of this statement to the problematic of racism:
a) the genealogy of the objectifying trends in western culture;
b) the subjectifying practices which have become increasingly important in recent years.
In this section, an attempt is made to construct a mode of analysis, derived from Foucault's texts, to identify those practices in western culture which have influenced the forming of the black both as object and subject.
Historical Analysis: Total History and Specific History
Foucault does not seek to provide a general reconstitution of the past; his analysis is concerned to investigate a specific problem by examining itsspecific history. 'Total' history is distinct from 'specific' history, particularly with regard to the question of evidence. 'Total' history seeks to reconstitute the past in terms of the exhaustiveness of evidence. Total history raises many questions: are there other sources of evidence that would change the narrative modify the generalizations or even undermine the conclusions? By contrast, in 'specific' history the question of evidence is treated in terms of its intelligibility, because evidence is itself related to the problem which is to be investigated. These two different approaches, those of exhaustiveness and intelligibility, introduce different criteria about the adequacy of evidence. In the case of a specific history of racism in South Africa, the aim is not to reduce evidence in the form which would satisfy historical methods of proof and demonstration in total or traditional history. This approach does not discredit the criterion of exhaustiveness, but operates within the limits of its own criterion, that of intelligibility. Neither will this approach adequately instantiate a general proposition, nor will it exhaustively reconstitute a segment of the past. An analysis of the specific history of racism seeks to make the problem of racism intelligible by reconstituting the conditions in which it operates. This does not exclude evidence; rather it entails a different treatment of evidence. If such an approach seems incomplete and always subject to modification, this is because the historical narrative itself is always incomplete and unfinished.
According to Foucault, traditional historical writing most often privileges a search for 'origins', since origin functions as a point of departure for causal analysis and elements of an historical field borrow their identity from their origins. This is particularly the case with histories of institutions. These histories are constructed in such a way that they are given an integrity far exceeding their forms of combination with other elements. Their identity is based on continuity, that is, in their development which is the difference between their present and their origin. But this is not the case with Foucault' s approach. His analysis is certainly concerned with the birth of clinical medicine, with the birth of psychiatry and with the birth of the prison. These births however are construed as beginnings and emergences; and they are preciselyconfigurations of elements. Even though mad men were interned before the eighteenth century, and medicine has long been concerned with madness, psychiatry has its beginnings at the point of a configuration of medicine and internment. In much the same way it is significant that racism in South Africa emerged at the point of a configuration of Christianity and civilization. This conception of a beginning of an emergence does not function as an origin.
Historical accounts of origins are based primarily on the organization of materials around the idea of progress. It is a history based on an ideological grid of the present, in which the present becomes the standard of reason. Foucault, however, rejects any conception of progress and his refusal to accept the category of progress serves an important theoretical end: it allows Foucault to underline important differences between things which are usually lumped together and subsumed under the category of progress.
Another aspect of Foucault's approach is that he mainly avoids traditional, historiographical periodization, and respects the common observation or assumption that contemporaneous phenomena are necessarily linked to each other. This assumption requires that any present moment constitutes an essential part of homogeneous time as is frequently justified in historical writing as the 'spirit of the age'. For Foucault there is no need for historical, writing to use calendrical time, as an organizing principle of analysis, since there is no requirement that temporality is undifferentiated. His analysis therefore tends to cut across the usual divisions of what is called 'Modern European History'. For example, inThe Order of Things he identifies two major mutations in intellectual history since the Renaissance: the first in the middle of the seventeenth century; and the second at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Foucault's historical research thus starts from identifying a specific discourse which his analysis aims to render intelligible. In such an analysis, detail has a different role. Traditionally detail is deemed to be important because of its evidential weight; however, in Foucault's analysis, detail is presented more as an analytic device; 'facts' are not so much a part of a permanent corpus of evidence against which a hypothesis might be tested but problems which analysis helps to make intelligible.
The notion of intelligibility, or the idea of making intelligible, places Foucault outside the usual tradition of historical explanation. Historical material in the social sciences is usually adapted to exceptionally strong explanatory schemes. Strong chains of causalities are invoked to demonstrate that events and institutions are the effects of the action of a structure. Significant patterns of events are explained in terms of underlying causes. In contrast, Foucault's analysis moves away from such theorizing. In his historical research he introduces instead the concept of 'eventalization'.
The Concept of Eventalization
Eventalization is a breach of self-evidence. This means making visible a singularity at places where an historical constant is evoked, or an obviousness which imposes uniformity. Eventalization tries to demonstrate that things in the past 'weren't as necessary as all that', for example when Foucault shows that it was not a matter of course that mad people came to be regarded as mentally ill. Similarly it is not self-evident that black people came to be regarded as barbaric, uncivilized and genetically inferior. The first theoretical and political function of 'eventalization' is a breach of those self-evidences on which our knowledges, acquiescences and practices rest.
In the second place eventalization involves the rediscovery of the connections, the encounters, the supports, the blockages, the strategies, and the play of forces which, at a particular moment, establish what consequently come to be regarded as self-evident, necessary and universal. In a sense this analysis effects a multiplication or pluralisation of causes. Furthermore, causal multiplication requires the analysis of an event in terms of the multiple processes that constitute it. Thus to analyse racism as an 'event' and not as an ideological effect means to determine the recesses by which racism, as a form of domination by exclusion, discrimination and exploitation, becomes a central component of the South African political system; and the practice of racism itself needs to be further analysed in terms of a multiplicity of processes such as the formation of spatial differentiation (having separate residential areas for whites and blacks, and separate public amenities for the different racial groups) as well as the effects of those practices upon blacks at the everyday level.
'Eventalization' thus works by constructing around a singular event a multiplicity of processes of intelligibility; the number of these processes is not given in advance and never can be regarded as finite. In Foucault's words, 'one has to proceed by progressive, necessarily incomplete saturation'.57 In other words the more one analyses the practice of racism in South Africa, down to its smallest details, the more one is led to study racism in relation to such practices as schooling, discipline, labour, sexuality, and so on. As the analysis progresses, this approach leads to an increasing polymorphism:
Chapter 3: The Constitution of Black as ‘Other’ ↵
The fact that universal civilization has for a long time originated from the European centre has maintained the illusion that European culture was, in fact and by right, a universal culture. Its superiority over other civilizations seemed to provide the experimental verification of this postulate. Moreover, the encounter with other cultural traditions was itself the fruit of that advance, and more generally the fruit of occidental science itself. Did not Europe invest history, geography, ethnography, and sociology in their explicit scientific forms? (Paul Ricoeur)
From the outset black identity was a European invention. By describing, studying, and ruling over Africans, Europeans constructed a discourse about blacks by which they were constituted and dominated. This discourse came profoundly to influence the making of South Africa, the parameters of its politics, society, ideologies and even its imagination.
'The country or land of Kaffraria', according to an 'early Dutch account of the Cape 'is so named after the Kafirs, its native inhabitants. They are commonly known to our countrymen as Hottentoos or Hottentots, because their language is so clumsy and difficult.'1 Their speech is 'full of clucks, like hose of the turkey-cocks'. 'Because of this our countrymen, observing this impediment and extraordinary stuttering in speech, have given them the name of Hottentots, in the sane sense as that word is commonly used here at home as a taunt against anybody who stutters and stammers in his uttering words.' Yet the native peoples of the Cape originally called themselves 'Khoin Khoin', meaning real people.2 In this explicit way, the Khoikhoi were named and reified through the grid of European imagination, which chanced upon the 'abnormal' manifestation of their vocal sounds; their very entry and ontological presence in Western culture and writing was the result of a negative and fortuitous designation of their language.3
In looking at what was radically 'other' about the indigenous inhabitants of southern Africa during early western contact, the aim will be to enquire within what space of the order of knowledge the 'primitive' person was constituted; and on the basis of what historical framework of perception ideas appeared, sciences were established, experience was reflected in philosophies and rationalities were formed of 'primitive' people. The first step will be to see how Western thinking determined that black people were different; the second, how it perceived the difference between the European and 'primitive' man, perceptions that were to provide a foundation and justification for the description and classification of blacks; and finally how these perceptions combined with local circumstances at the Cape to create a racist discourse and to lay the foundations of a racially structured system of social relations.
The Same and the Other
Since Vasco da Gama's pioneering voyage to India the ships of many European nations had berthed at Saldanha and Table Bay and travellers had brought back to Europe their impressions of the Cape. So the Dutch already knew something about the Cape and its inhabitants when they established a station there in 1652. In time, this knowledge developed into a more systematic observation of the indigenous peoples; collections of data, descriptions and classifications all emphasised the peculiarity of the physical appearance, clothing, speech, and way of life of the natives. As early as 1668 discourses on 'other races' began to emerge, structured around the conceptual opposition between the European and the 'savage' world.
Even a cursory glance at early descriptions of the Khoikhoi reveals the trend in European perceptions of the blacks. In particular the observations of Dapper (whose report on the Hottentots published in 1668 was essentially a compilation), Ten Rhyne, (a physician in the Company's employ whose main interest was natural history and botany) and Grevenbroek (a clerk also in the Company's employ and local secretary of its Council of Policy) should be compared with those, a hundred years later, of Sparrman (a student of Linnaeus and naturalist who travelled in the Cape) and Mentzel (a Company soldier).4 These writers all touched variously on the Khoikhoi's physical appearance, dress, diet, habitation, utensils and weapons, customs (particularly those at birth, marriage and death) religion, or rather superstition and magic, government and law (or the absence of it), language, and character. These categories came to form a conceptual grid into which the descriptions of Khoikhoi life could be placed. A discursive structure began to emerge from even these simple descriptions, and, significantly, they demonstrated a particular ordering of 'otherness', structured around the stark opposition between European and Savage. Some typical comments on the physical appearance, food, houses, character, art, trade, religion and law of the Khoikhoi are set out below, as illustrations of the contrast between Western and 'savage' norms:5
In build and shape |they have] ill-formed bodies and insignificant appearance, and yellowish in colour (Dapper in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, p. 43)
... they smear their bodies and faces with grease and fat, so that altogether they are beastly, savage, coarse and dirty in habit, and consequently look as if they never wash (Dapper, ibid., p. 51)
Like other savages, they do not know how to prepare or dress their food, but fall on the dead beast like dogs, eating it raw, and seldom cooked, with entrails and guts as well, first however, pressing out the excrement backwards or squeezing it out with the teeth (Dapper, ibid., pp. 55-7)
3.Mode of Dwelling
Apart from their huts they have no houses, nor shelter, nor dwelling place.... (Ten Rhyne, ibid., p. 119)
In faithlessness, inconstancy, lying, cheating, treachery, and infamous concern with every kind of lust they exercise their villainy. (Ten Rhyne, ibid., p. 123)
You might as well look for jewels in a sty as for arts in this degraded people (Ten Rhyne, ibid., p. 149)
They have no great inclination towards trade (Dapper, ibid., p. 73)
No one ... has ever been able to find among all the Kafirs or Hottentots or Beach rangers any trace of religion, or any show of honour to God or the Devil (Dapper, ibid., p. 75)
Although being bound neither by the bonds of God nor of shame, they absolve themselves from law, yet they are often a law to themselves, imitating by blind impulse, under the teaching of dame custom, those things which their fathers before them did (Ten Rhyne, ibid., p. 143)
9. All the Kafirs or Hottentots are people bereft of all science and literature, very uncouth, and in intellect more like beasts than men (Dapper, ibid., p. 45)
Designating the Khoikhoi in these ways gave Europeans proof of their own alterity. The Khoikhoi were classified according to the tenets of Western thought and imagination: it was not arts, science or religion, but their absence which described them. Alterity was the opposite, a negative category of the ‘Same’. The Khoikhoi thus becomes the 'Other', which by its difference from the norm specified the identity of the 'Same'. At the same time, by proclaiming a series of differences between European and Khoikhoi, these differences were capable of being assimilated into white thought by recognising the ways in which they departed from the white norm; the way in which these differences were identified and arranged was itself a comment upon the epistemological foundations of contemporary Western thought.6
This conceptualisation was informed by the general opposition between European life and 'Savage' life. The notion of savagery (as the Latin suggests) translates as wildness, and could variably be defined as 'living in a state of nature', being 'undomesticated', 'uncivilized', 'uncultured', 'rude', and 'untamed'.7 These notions express not only the condition of the savage, but derive their meaning in an oppositional relation to 'civilization', 'culture', 'government' and so forth. As Hayden White aptly remarked, the notion of savagery or wildness 'belongs to a set of culturally self-authenticating devices which includes, among many others, the ideas of "madness" and "heresy" as well. These terms are used not merely to designate a specific condition or state of being, but also confirm the value of their dialectical antitheses: "civilization", "sanity" and "orthodoxy" respectively'.8 By refusing to give the radically different life of the Khoikhoi a validity except as an 'antitype of negative instance', the meaning of European life was validated while that of the Khoikhoi was denied.
Terms such as 'civilization' and 'humanity', Hayden White argues, are defined by juxtaposition and stipulation, rather than observation and induction.9 Thus, if we do not know what civilization is, we can always find out by illustrating what it is not. Conversely, Khoikhoi characteristics can be determined by seeing how they differ from the European. All that the various terms to designate the Khoikhoi have in common is their 'not-being European'. The antagonism between European and Khoikhoi is reduced to the contradictory relationship of European and non-European. Khoikhoi is the negative, which cannot be directly represented and is thus constituted through an ensemble of specific antagonisms. Whereas Europeanness is represented as a tightly woven construction of positive determinations, Khoikhoi life is dissolved into a series of negative equivalences lacking any positivity of its own. Thus the Khoikhoi are constituted in terms of the subordinate character, established through a series of equivalences constructed by means of antagonisms. It is this relationship that came to underlie the conceptual structure of racism in South Africa. In it the European would throughout be the paradigmatic representative of the human species, and the black, the 'Other', of this idealised image.
This process of negation, differentiation and rejection, presupposed an implicit scale of values which placed the European above the savage, and the experience of the savage is subject to moral critique. The absence of laws, religion, government, reflect an uncontrolled and licentious society without moral restraint or moral obligations. It is precisely this feature of savage life that produced the graphic descriptions which scandalised the Classical Age, and underlined for that Age the negative effects of a relaxation of morals.10 A moral perception sustains Ten Rhyne's account of Khoikhoi habits:
These lawless barbarians and immoral paeans practise only those habits to which a blind impulse of nature irresistibly impels them. ... Abandoned as they are to every vice, they practise the rite of Venus a posteriori; the woman rests upon her side higher up than the man, while he reclines in the hollow that serves him for a bed. Thus after the fashion of the beasts they rush on their mutual embrace.11
As Dapper claimed, the absence of laws meant the absence of morals and any notion of shame. Shame was seen as the proof of adulthood, civilised standards, and 'proper behaviour'.12 According to Dapper and other observers, the Khoikhoi possessed neither morals nor shame: 'They are unashamed... and for a small piece of bread or tobacco will expose themselves entirely to your gaze'.13 This constant harping on the absence of shame among the Khoikhoi is a commentary on the contemporary European obsession with morality and good behaviour. Thus, the beginnings of racist discourse not only involved the construction of black Otherness, it also invested this Otherness with a sensibility of moral condemnation.
Another recurrent theme was that the Khoikhoi were idle. Indeed, idleness was regarded as the central feature of their character.14 With hardly a dissenting voice,15 the Khoikhoi were condemned as idle, slothful, indolent and lazy. For Protestant Europe, to be idle was to defy the fundamental divine edict; to be improvident, to look to God to save oneself from starving, was an offence. Without the discipline of unremitting work, mankind would relapse into sin. In Calvinism, as Weber has written, 'Waste of time is thus the first and in principle the deadliest of sins. The span of human life is infinitely short and precious to make sure of one's own election. Loss of time through sociability, idle talk, luxury, even more sleep than is necessary for health ... is worthy of absolute moral condemnation.'16 In contemporary Europe, as Foucault has noted, 'the great confinement' had got under way, and with it the campaigns to stamp out vagrancy and begging. Beggars as well as criminals and the insane were now shut away. In periods of high unemployment, houses of confinement incarcerated the unemployed; during better times the same houses were used as hostels. In productive terms these houses of confinement were a failure, but that is not the point; their purpose was not to turn a profit, but to proclaim the ethical value of work. In the early phases of industrial development, Foucault suggests, labour and poverty were viewed as polar opposites; labour was regarded as having the power to conquer poverty 'not so much by its productive capacity as by a certain force of moral enchantment.17 It is in terms of such concepts of labour that the Khoikhoi were judged and found wanting.
Mentzel described the Khoikhoi as 'idle and lazy; timid and shy or stupid ... filthy in their habits and swinish at their meals; ignorant and not eager to learn anything . . . they are greedy, and have a natural inclination for strong drink and tobacco.’18 What was the remedy? Work. According to William Burchell, manual labour would teach them the 'necessity of honest industry', and this in turn would 'cut off the root of at least half the miseries of the Hottentot race.'19
As these observers denounced the sloth of the Khoikhoi, they reflected upon the causes and considered the answer to the question of how the slothful Khoikhoi were to be rehabilitated. According to Mentzel, the answer lay in education; 'Hottentots are people whose whole way of living is proof that they have no educators ... They have grown up, as it were, in a state of nature. They do not think about anything except what they have learned without direction or instruction.'20 Mentzel's investigations aimed explicitly to discover the most efficient means of colonizing the Khoikhoi. He thought that 'they can however be tamed, if they are gently persuaded to become servants.... Especially those taken in hand when young may easily be trained and used.'21 The Khoikhoi were idle because they lived in a state of nature: their route to improvement lay in subjection to European authority. By working for the European colonist, the lifestyle of the Khoikhoi would be transformed, and they would acquire the regularity and discipline of European society. Putting the Khoikhoi to work would lay the basis for their incorporation into colonial society. From their labour would flow the benefits of production and also of moral improvement.
As contact with the Khoikhoi grew, the European view about them became more sophisticated, as did the explanations about their idleness. Mentzel, writing at the end of the eighteenth century, did not demur from the earlier view of the Khoikhoi as uncivilised, but he was able now to give further and better particulars:
These authors are right insofar as the Hottentots build no cities, live in the most distant parts, between the mountains, in valleys, in wildernesses, along the rivers, in the bushes and forests, migrate from one place to another, acknowledge no authority, accept no laws, except those they have chosen for themselves and have observed by long custom.22
As a consequence their 'whole way of living is proof that they have no educators.'23 But Khoikhoi traits had deeper causes. Sparrman, a scientist and doctor, thought their diet and an. inactive lifestyle was the likely cause of their listlessness:
... the Hottentots are more cold and moderate in their desires of a certain nature than any other nations; qualities which are the natural consequences of the dull, inactive and entirely listless disposition, which is the leading characteristic of their minds -qualities which are produced by the debilitating diet they use and their extreme inactivity and sloth which increase, but in extremes deadens and benumbs both the physical and moral sensations.24
Here are early signs of that hegemony of the visual mode of knowing in medicine (and indeed in science), which came to be linked with the political hegemony of Europeans over non-European. The subject of political hegemony (that is, the Khoikhoi as colonised) and the scientist's object (the Khoikhoi as studied) were coming to be addressed within the same space.25
Chapter 4: The Black as Uncivilized ↵
By the end of the eighteenth century, the Khoikhoi were being forced to work, and this entailed imposing rigorous forms of physical constraint upon them. To begin with, the colonists got the labour they needed by tying the Khoikhoi's family to the farm or by holding onto his wages.26 The official line was that the Khoikhoi must be kept constantly employed. Any Khoikhoi who neglected his duties must, according to 'the good order' laid down by Fiscal J.A. Truter, like 'children, apprentices and slaves' be punished by their betters.27 Curbs were imposed upon their mobility and pass laws and vagrancy regulations were designed to tie them to their jobs. In 1794, theDutch East India Company gave settlers the right to arrest armed Khoikhoi who were found idle along the roads or in the fields.28 In 1809, after the British had become the masters of the Cape, Governor Caledon put onto the statute book the curbs that ultimately left the Khoikhoi with no choice but to work under a system which relegated them permanently to the status of involuntary serfs. As De Kiewiet put it, 'The Caledon Code brought the relations between master and servant within the ordinary processes of law'.29 To prevent, idleness and vagrancy, Caledon's Hottentot Proclamation made it compulsory for Khoikhoi to have certificates of residency or, when they left their abode, passes issued by their master (or the Landdrost).30 This marks the first appearance of the Pass Laws in their long and notorious history in South Africa: their aim was to eliminate idleness and vagrancy, satisfy the white demand for labour, regulate the movements of the black population, and tie blacks by a system of laws that continues to control their lives to the present day. The pass laws were one element in the sequestration of black life, which stands out as a feature of white settlement in South Africa.
As Hayden White has shown, early modern Europe's conception of the wild man endowed him with one of two distinct personalities, depending upon how the relationship between nature and society was perceived.31 If living in a state of nature was defined negatively, and society was seen as preferable to the natural state, the savage was seen as the 'antitype of desirable humanity', representing a threat to society and its norms. If, on the other hand, nature was viewed through rose-tinted spectacles, and society was seen as a ‘fall away from natural perfection', then the wild man served as 'antitypes ofsocial existence'.32 Broadly speaking, Hobbes belongs to the former tradition and Rousseau to the latter.
During the seventeenth century, the notion of the savage flowed in two distinct channels. Savagery was either projected in terms of the positive aspects of man released from the trammels of convention or in negative terms in which man's submission to the 'state of nature' was a warning of the dire consequences of rejecting society and its norms. Significantly, the positive view of the state of nature was rarely found in travel accounts, and was conspicuous by its absence among the European settlers at the Cape. An exception was Grevenbroek's portrayal of the Khoikhoi: 'In whiteness of soul they are superior to many of our countrymen'.33 In an account which anticipates Rousseau's noble savage, Grevenbroek argued that the Khoikhoi had degenerated through contact with Europeans. 'From us they have learned blasphemy, perjury, strife, quarrelling, drunkenness, trickery, brigandage, theft, ingratitude, unbridled lust for what is not one's own, misdeeds unknown to them before, and among other crimes of deepest die, the accursed lust of gold.'34 For Grevenbroek the passage out of nature was the beginning of corruption and the degeneracy of the Khoikhoi was not an original condition, but a condition acquired through contact with the European.35
It was the Hobbesian vision, however, that prevailed in most of the accounts of the Cape. In a familiar passage in the 'Leviathan', Hobbes condemned the State of Nature as a condition of war, with no industry, agriculture, commerce, arts, letters or society: '... and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.' According to Hobbes this was the condition of 'the savage people in many places of America’, and his description could have as well come from any of the travellers' portrayals of Khoikhoi life.36
Yet Hobbes's view of the savage as 'brutish', 'barbarous', and 'hostile', with the 'State of Nature' as the antithesis of civilised society, and Rousseau's portrayal of the 'Noble Savage' and nature as innocent, unspoiled and virtuous embodied in the 'Noble Savage', though apparently opposed, were in fact anchored within a single system of analysis. Firstly, both posit a 'State of Nature' which is without Arts, Sciences and Writing, in other words, the opposite of civilization. The opposition is coupled around the idea that culture is different from Nature; culture in its positivity as presence is different from Nature in its negativity as absence.
Secondly both discourses saw the 'beginnings' of man and his relation to Nature in the transition from origin to genesis. The description of 'pure Nature' makes room for such a transition. But 'pure Nature' is supplemented by an exterior addition; it is innocent and good or it is evil. Throughout their texts, the negativity of Evil for Rousseau and the negativity of good for Hobbes, form the supplementarity of Nature37 thus for Rousseau, evil is exterior to Nature and for Hobbes evil is interior to Nature. In both Rousseau and Hobbes, Nature is supplemented by notions evil or good, which are exterior to Nature itself as descriptions. Thus Nature can only derive its meaning through a procedure of supplementarity, in which the 'savage' is presented through a system of substitution, aimed at reconstituting the edifice of Nature. As Derrida argues, nature does not supplement itself at all, its supplement does not proceed from itself, it is alien and 'other’ than Nature.38 From this point of view, both discourses are reconciled within the unity of a single code of supplementarity of nature, which is the precondition of that code. In both accounts the 'savage' derives his identity through the supplements good and evil. The supplement of Nature as evil produces a vision of savage life as one without order, regularity, science, arts and harmony. These are exterior to and against Nature. Savage life is thus characterised as 'lawless' and 'immoral', displaying 'a wretched ignorance of all virtues', producing 'unbridled lusts' all of which though 'they have not the law yet do things that are of the nature of law'.39 Through the supplementation of nature as essentially evil, the Khoikhoi 'resisting every impulse of humanity, ...persist in the savagery of their fore-fathers'.40 Savage life is clearly not a social state, but a curse of Nature; the Khoikhoi suffered from the same handicaps, stemming from the same causes: being savage in the state of Nature. The negativity of the State of Nature produces the negativity of savage life.
The Khoikhoi, as savage, is directed solely by natural instinct in which lust and passion prevail: 'the force of nature keeps them absolutely subject to their squalid ways'. Consequently they lack the faculties, the self-restraint and the social structures by which the Europeans, for example, have raised themselves above those base instincts. It is precisely the transition of man from the Natural to the Social State that distinguishes him from the animal kingdom. According to this line of reasoning about the State of Nature on the one hand and structure of European society on the other, the Khoikhoi were perceived as pre-cultural, antisocial, or natural, and thus accorded with purely animal functions.
It is not surprising then, that descriptions of the Khoikhoi throughout this period were dominated by images of animality or bestiality. An English clergyman who visited the Cape in 1615; graphically described the Khoikhoi as 'beasts in the skins of men, rather than men in the skins of beasts, as may appear by their ignorance, habit, language and diet.'41 Even when they eat 'they fall on the dead beast like dogs, eating it raw and seldom cooked'.42 Their disposition and bodies resemble that of beasts: 'They have the temper of wild animals ... and bodies more than human'.43 These images of animality, projected on the way that they ate, their habits, disposition and physical appearance, distinguished the Khoikhoi from the European, and distanced them from sensibilities of European man. This distance was a precondition of the discourse; it substantiated the alterity of the Khoikhoi and sustained it throughout.
InSome Years Travels into Africa and Asia, published in 1665, Thomas Herbert tried to establish that the Khoikhoi were beings halfway between man and ape. Having 'a voice 'twixt humane and beast, makes that supposition to be of more credit, that they have a beastly copulation or conjuncture. So as considering the resemblance they bear with Baboons, which I could observe kept frequent company with the Women, their speech... rather agreeing with beasts than men.'44 This reinforced the contemporary perception that the Khoikhoi were not entirely human, in a period when classification was used to detect similarities and mark out differences between species. If the European, the dynamic creator of writing, laws, arts and government, represented the exemplary paradigm of Man in the chain of Being, where would the Khoikhoi fit? Local settlers at the Cape, who called them 'schepsel', also had their doubts whether the Khoikhoi were entirely human and a visitor, Landdrost Alberts, remarked in 1805 that 'according to the unfortunate notion prevalent here, a heathen is actually not human, but at the same time he cannot really be classed among the animals. He is therefore a sort of creature not known elsewhere.'45
Khoikhoi language, we have seen, was compared to the clucking of hens or the cackling of geese. Associating it with language's fabled origins, when forms of human expression hardly distinct from the tongue of animals began to emerge as speech. Ten Rhyne wrote:
If one listens to them talking, one supposes the age of Pythagoras to have returned, in which birds were fabled to have enjoyed mutual converse in speech. In sober truth it is noise, not speech, if one attends to the mode of expression of the Hottentots ... The result is that they are bereft of all interchange of speech with other races; nor after all this lapse of time can one of our countrymen be found who can converse perfectly with them.46
Since speech, for Ten Rhyne and the Classical Age to which he belonged,47 distinguishes man from animals, and language marks one nation from another, the Khoikhoi were seen as outside the family of man, incapable of communication with other peoples because they were bereft of speech. Above all, the unintelligibility of their language made communication between the races impossible. It is this that sets the Khoikhoi ever further apart from human-kind. The Khoikhoi was not only distinct from the European in language, he was underdeveloped. Men and animals alike used sounds as signs, but the signification of words involved the 'spiritual element' of speech,48 as is shown by Condillac's exposition on linguistic acquisition, in which he systematically developed and incorporated Locke's rejection of innate ideas. The notion was accepted that all knowledge of the external world, all complex ideas, are generalizations from simple ideas which are the mental images of sense perceptions.49 For Condillac, the differences between classes of being are a result of theircapacity to receive, collect and utilize experiences. Men are superior to animals, not simply because they possess reason, but because they have learnt to use complex signs. Language provides the basis for reasoning which makes connections and generalizations from the perceptions of the senses. For the human species, language is an acquired ability and each individual has to be trained in its use. The capacity to know depends on the development of the different senses and the ability to differentiate between sense impressions. This ability in its turn depends upon the demands placed on the senses, and the exigencies of a person's needs. When the range of human needs is extended, so is the range of sensations, and therefore, of human abilities. Thus, environment, language and social development are necessary for the formation of the capacities conceived of as distinctly 'human', the capacity to reason and to speak. Man’s isolation from civilised society will reveal only his 'natural' endowments, what sense experience at its most simple level can produce in the individual, without benefit of training or the stimulus of civilised needs. In this context, the Khoikhoi represented the most primitive level of linguistic capacity, acquisition and expression. Khoikhoi language signified human language in its 'purely natural' and hence most undeveloped and inferior state. At the same time, since the his environment is the state of nature, his language under-developed, and his social development pre-cultural, the Khoikhoi does not have the necessary capacities conceived of as distinctly human, and is closer to the animal than to 'civilised' man.
An entire framework had thus been set up into which manifestations of Khoikhoi behaviour could be placed. The significant fact was that the framework was conceived in terms of animality. The animality of the Khoikhoi dispossessed him of all that is specifically human. For the European, the Khoikhoi ultimately is man not yet released from animality. In his animality he becomes an object of disgust, loathing, anxiety and fear, the quintessence of what Europeans feared they might become again if they relapsed into a State of Nature. This fear of savagery embodies European anxieties about the Hobbesian 'State of Nature' or, as Samuel Butler put it in the 1680s,
The Whole World, without Art, and Dress,
Would be but one great Wilderness
And Mankind but a Savage Herd,
For all that Nature has Conferd.50
In the accounts of contemporary travellers, there is no explicit formulation of the argument that Khoikhoi nature and traits were innate; this was language that would be used later in the nineteenth century to describe 'primitive' peoples. But there were signs of a not unsimilar view, albeit implicit, beginning to emerge. Ten Rhyne considered that races are distinct from each other with distinct qualities: 'The human race as a whole, apart from local and national peculiarities, is provided at birth with a character proper to itself.'51 Since the Khoikhoi were regarded as a distinct race with distinct physical and moral traits, most Europeans at the Cape did not believe that a change of circumstances or conversion could fundamentally improve or alter them. This attitude is revealed by the experience of Eva, a 'civil, modest body, of rational discourse',52 the first Khoikhoi woman who was converted to Christianity and then married a Danish surgeon. By 1658 Eva had mastered Dutch and had become one of the first interpreters between Europeans and her people. After less than four years of marriage, she was left a widow with three children. The Company gave her a home in an abandoned pottery but she took to drink and prostitution. Typically, at a dinner with the colony's elite, she shocked the guests by becoming drunk and hurling abuse at them. Threatened with banishment to Robben Island, she fled the colony but was arrested on her way back to the Khoikhoi. Eva was sent to Robben Island where she spent most of the last five years of her life. Her obituary in the official journal makes the point:
This day departed this life, a certain female Hottentoo, named Eva, long, ago taken from the African brood in her tender childhood by the Hon. Van Riebeeck and educated in his house as well as brought to the knowledge of the Christian faith, and being thus transformed from a female Hottentoo almost into a Motherland woman.... Since his |her Husband's| death ... she had brought forth... many illegitimate ones, and for the rest, led such an irregular life.... Hence in order not to be accused of tolerating her adulterous and debauched life, she had at various times been relegated to Robben Island where, though she could obtain no drink, she abandoned herself to immorality. Pretended reformation induced the Authorities many times to call her back to the Cape, but as soon as she returned, she, like the dogs, always returned to her own vomit, so that finally she quenched the fire of her sensuality by death, affording a manifest example that nature, however closely and firmly muzzled by imprinted principles, nevertheless at its own time triumphing over all precepts, again rushes back to its inborn qualities.53
This extract has been retained in its original form, since its style reveals not only the moral outrage and the unbending self-righteousness of those who judged her fall, but it also suggests how racist attitudes and moral judgement went hand in hand. Eva's racial origins are posited as the essential cause of her degradation, while her debauched and adulterous conduct are seen as consequences of being irremediably a 'Hottentot'.
Eva's tragic life reveals that the settler community in the Cape were already acutely conscious of their white racial identity, and this throws an interesting light on the nexus between cultural identity and racial practice in the early colonial period. As the daughter of a European man and a Khoikhoi woman told a traveller in the 1780s:
You know the profound contempt which the whites entertain for the blacks, and even for those of a mixed breed like myself. To settle among them was to expose myself to daily disgrace and affronts.54
Finally, the epitaph on Eva's brief life encapsulates the early European perception of the Khoikhoi. Their flirtations with European culture would, inevitably, end badly and they would always revert to their bad own ways.55 Indeed, Eva's life was a parable of what most white people already believed: that the Khoikhoi were incapable of absorbing European culture; they were unassimilated and unassimilable.
Classification, Order and Hierarchy
Classifying nature and man into types marks the faint beginnings of modern theories about race. In the eighteenth century, the exhaustive description of all living beings was placed in one systematic table, classified as part of the great hierarchy and continuum of nature. This involved a rational process of ordering in which classification was made by detecting similarities and picking out differences. Linnaeus and Buffon were not alone in an intellectual movement which held that the bodily (and moral and intellectual) extensions could be precisely measured in terms of their characteristic elements and not merely their physical appearances.
In natural history a type had a particular character which provided the observer with a designation, or as Foucault says, 'a controlled derivation'. These types and characters belong to a system, a network of related generalisation. Thus,
... all designations must be accomplished by means of a certain relation to all other possible designations. To know what properly appertains to one individual is to have before one the classification - or the possibility of classifying - all others.56
In the writings of philosophers, natural historians and travellers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, character-as-designation appears in terms of physiological-moral classifications. Thus for example, Linnaeus tried to classify all living beings and arranged them into an ordered taxonomic table. The abbreviated version of Linnaeus' arrangement of Homo Sapiens from his tenth edition of Systema Naturae in 1758 ran as follows:
Wild Man - shaggy hair, mute, four-footed.
American - red, choleric, erect; thick, straight black hair; distended nostrils.... He paints himself with variegated, red lines. He is ruled by custom.
European - white, sanguine, muscular, long, blond hair; blue eyes, gentle, most intelligent, a discoverer. He covers himself with clothing suitable to the northern climate. He is ruled by religious custom.
Asiatic - yellow, melancholy, rigid; dark hair, dark eyes; austere, arrogant, greedy. He covers himself with loose clothing. He is ruled by opinion.
African - black, phlegmatic, lax; black, curly hair; silky skin, apelike nose; swollen lips; the bosoms of the women are distended; their breasts give milk copiously, crafty, slothful, careless. He smears himself with fat. He is ruled by authority.
Monster - divided into two groups; those by nature... and those by custom.57
Linnaeus's classification was based on the contrast between the other races and the European. Distinctions include geography, colour, racial personality traits, facial and body features, the wearing or the absence of clothes, and customs. The European was clearly the paradigm against which all other races were measured.
Linnaeus's categories were not organised in the same way as in Buffon's Chain of Being. For Linnaeus, human beings as rational speaking beings, were simply one more kind of creature, whose nature could be read off from their proper definition and to whom their proper place on the table of beings could thus be assigned. However, by defining the different physiological-moral traits and establishing the differences between races, by contrasting other races against a Eurocentric model of man, these were designated by their inferiority. In Linnaeus's system, the Khoikhoi were classified and designated as 'Monster', a kind of pathological species. This classification reified the difference, distance and inferiority of the Khoikhoi compared with European man.
The idea of the Great Chain of Being was another method of classification in natural history. This Chain of Being, commenced with inanimate objects and ranged upwards through the lowliest forms of life and the more intelligent animals until it reached man himself. It then continued upwards through the ranks of heavenly creatures until it reached its pinnacle in God.58 Within this system the distinction between races was achieved by ranking them hierarchically. As the Swiss naturalist Charles Bonnet stated, 'there is a prodigious number of continued links between the most perfect man and the ape.'59 Within this system, the proximity between Ape and man is shown by the 'Hottentot'. The natural historian Soame Jenyns confirmed this view by declaring that
. . . animal life rises from this low beginning in the shell-fish . . . and beasts to the confines of reason, where, in the dog, the monkey, and chimpanzee it unites so closely with the lowest degree of that quality in man, ... From this lowest degree in the brutal Hottentot, reason, with the assistance of learning and science, advances, through the various stages of human understanding, which rise above each other, till in a Bacon or a Newton it attains the summit.60
According to Buffon, the Khoikhoi were the lowest exemplars of mankind in the 'Chain of Being', bridging the gap between Man and Ape, and he repeated the now well-worn legend that the beastly sexual appetite of Khoikhoi women encouraged them to copulate with apes.61 In this classificatory system the Khoikhoi was ranked as the lowest human species; he was constituted as being not different and distant from European man, butinferior to him.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when philosophers and natural historians analysed the 'savage', their analysis was guided by questions derived from philosophy and natural history. The philosophical questions had to do with the nature of man and the distinctions between the natural and the social state, questions which presumed savagery to be the converse of civilization, and civilization the source of the ethical standards by which the ways of savage life could be judged. On the other hand, questions of natural history led to the analysis of beings, their conduct, disposition and physical varieties. Together, the two sets of questions gave the civilised European the double task not only of defining and judging himself but also of analysing, classifying and identifying his converse, (the savage).
The Khoikhoi as 'other' was labelled with a set of signs which mirrored the potential threats they were seen to pose to European civilization. As 'other', the black was invested with all the qualities of the 'bad', 'evil', 'savage', 'dirty', 'immoral' and so on. The association of these negative qualities with black identity, and positive qualities with white identity, is a recurring image in racist discourse. As Fanon wrote
In Europe the Black man is the symbol of evil. The torturer is the Black man, Satan is black.... It would be astonishing, if the trouble were taken to bring them all together, to see the vast expressions that make the Black man the equivalent of sin. In Europe, whether concretely or symbolically, the Black man stands for the bad side of the character ... on the other side, the bright "look of innocence, the white dove of peace, magical, heavenly, light.62
In effect there was an overall negation of the black. In the early colonial context it involved, as Fanon has pointed out, the destruction of Khoikhoi cultural values and ways of life; their language, dress and systems of reference, all were devalued.63 Expropriation, dispossession, raids and murders were accompanied by the annihilation of Khoikhoi customs and cultural patterns. In their place, a Western system of governing, and a new system of values were imposed. At the Cape a society emerged which was hierarchically ordered on racial lines, and functioned under white supervision. The Khoikhoi were thus constituted and confined within a system alien to their own. In this early phase the colonist established his domination, while his every attitude, action and behaviour massively affirmed his superiority. All this literally made the black an object in the hands of the European. He came to be enclosed and fixed within the colonial status. The perception of the black as stupid, dirty, and immoral was constantly renewed by the very system that had destroyed his traditional mode of life. Racist views were systematically generated within the colonial context, and these views informed practices which in turn had reifying effects. The notorious apathy of the Khoikhoi which the white colonist decried was in itself the consequence of these developments. In other words, the conception of the black as 'lazy', 'stupid', and 'dirty' was produced by the very system that repressed him. It can therefore be seen why the question of black identity is so crucial to the formation of any racist discourse. As Fanon wrote, 'for not only must the black man be black; he must be black in relation to the white man.'64
It is worth recalling that Eva's conversion to Christianity and adoption of a European lifestyle alienated her from her traditional culture without gaining her a real acceptance by Europeans.65 Accepted in neither culture, Eva was reduced to seeking the company of sailors, those gypsies of the sea. Another Khoikhoi woman, Sara, who spent most of her short life amongst the Dutch as a servant and concubine, killed herself at the age of twenty-four.66 A Khoikhoi, converted to Christianity and taken to Holland in 1707, was considered on his return to have led such an immoral life that he was banished to Robben Island. Another westernized Khoikhoi, known as Pegu, escaped the same fate only by fleeing back to his own people.67
The experience of these Europeanized Khoikhoi symbolises how racism in its initial phase, involved the total violation of the individual, existentially, politically and most distinctively, culturally. Fanon has characterized this initial phase in terms of the concept of alienation. He has argued that there is a reciprocal relationship between culture and racism both for the European who practises it and for the black who becomes its victim.68 Westernized blacks were forced to accept the European's conceptions of themselves, and this meant they could only rediscover their identity by the unacceptable and complex route of first negating it, since of course they were black themselves. Their identity was conditioned by having to view their own lifestyles through the denigratory perspective of the European, and this could only lead to negation and despair. Throughout its history black identity has been powerfully bound by this unbreakable dilemma. As Fanon aptly stated, 'the black soul is a white man's artifact.'69 So how could the blacks rediscover their identities or their souls?
The central feature in these early perceptions of the Khoikhoi was the conceptual opposition postulated between the European and the non-European. It was not only a negative gesture of rejection or ignorance of 'savage' life, it was founded on a specific framework of perception with its own peculiar coherence, as the discussion above suggests. Perceptions about, and judgement of, the 'savage' produced for the most part a reaction which characterised the Khoikhoi as wild, beastly, dirty, stupid, and unaesthetic, in short, saw-the Khoikhoi as a species of 'savage' in conduct and behaviour. It was a catalogue of faults or forms of 'savagery'. The perceptual grid that produced this view conceived the savage as a threat to the European social order. Thus, savagery was not perceived in isolation, but together with degeneration, disorder, and all other conjured threats to the social order. Idleness, licentiousness, immorality, and brutishness, were lumped together in one category of culpable faults, 'savagery'. Before being designated as a biologically inferior species, blacks at this early point in the trajectory of racism passed through the preparatory stages by being condemned in moral terms.
O. Dapper, 'Kaffraria or land of the Hottentots', inThe Early Cape Hottentots described in the Writings of Olfert Dapper"(1668), Willem Ten Rhyne (1986), and Johannes Gulielmus de Grevenbroek (1695). I. Schapera,(ed.). Van Riebeeck Society Publications, 14, (Cape Town, 1933), P. 7', also see I. Schapera, The Koisan Peoples of South Africa: Bushmen and Hottentots, (London, 1930).
Dapper, in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, p. 71; and fn 82.
Hottentotism is defined as a 'practice a characteristic of Hottentots; a species of stammering'.Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, (London, 1933) p. 926.Rut see also G.S. Nienaber,' The Origin of the Name "Hottentot"', inAfrican Studies (Johannesburg, 1963), PP. 66-90, and V.A. February,Mind your Colour. The 'Coloured' stereotype in South African Literature (London, 1981), pp.16-17.
See Schapera,The Early Cape Hottentots, and cf. A. Sparrman, AVoyage to the Cape of Good Hope (London, 1785), 2 Vols, and O.F. Mentzel,A geographical-topographical description of the Cape of Good Hope, Parts I II and III, H. J. Mandebrote (trans.), Van Riebeeck Society Publications, 4,6,25 (Cape Town, 1921, 1924, 1944).
cf. Table 1.2 'Attitudes towards the earliest inhabitants of South Africa (Dutch and German)' drawn from the accounts of Joris van Spilbergen, Wybrandt van Warwijch, Paulus van Caerden, Seygher van Rechteren, and, among German travellers, Wurffbain, Merklein, Herport, Hoffmann and Schweitzer, in February,Mind Your Colour, p. 19.
According to Foucault ' s archaeology, a new epistemological foundation had been created in the Classical Age. Theories of diversification of beings, as well as classificatory tables, explain the origins of constructing taxonomies and their objectives, M. Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, A. Sheridan (trans.)(New York, 1973) (OT), pp.125-65.The framework of Linneaus' 'Systema Naturae' (1735) is just one of the paradigmatic classifications of species and varieties of Homo Sapiens, distinguished according to physical characteristics and those of temperament.
SeeShorter Oxford English Dictionary, p. 1794. For various connotations of the notion of 'wildness', see H. White, 'The Forms of Wildness: Archaeology of an Idea', inThe Wild Man Within: An Image in Western Thought from the Renaissance to Romanticism, E. Dudley and M.E. Novak (eds) (Pittsburgh, 1972), pp. 3-38.
White,The Wild Man Within, p. 4.
White explains that these concepts 'make their appearance in a culturally significant way; they function as signs that point to or refer to putative essences incarnated in specific human groups. They are treated neither as provisional designators, that is, hypotheses for directing further inquiry into specific areas of human experience, nor as fictions with limited heuristic utility for generating possible ways of conceiving the human world. They are, rather, complexes of symbols, the referents of which shift and change in response to the changing patterns of human behaviour which they are meant to sustain.’ ibid., p. 5.
A moral sensibility, Foucault suggests, dominated the Classical Age in its judgements of social life. See M. Foucault,Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of "Reason, R. Howard (trans.) (New York, 1965), pp. 54-64.
Ten Rhyne in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, p. 127.
See N. Norbert,The civilizing process: the History of Manners (Oxford, 1978), Vol. I, p. 134 ft.
Dapper, in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, p. 47. Writing in 1638, Sir Thomas Herbert says of them I cannot commend their modesty, the women (upon receipt of anything) returning her gratitude by discovering her shame.' ibid., p. 47, fn. 65.
'Character' is one of the categories in the conceptual grid discussed above. The idleness of the Khoikhoi was simultaneously described and denounced:
They are lazier than the tortoises which they hunt and eat. (Johan Nieuhof, 1654)
They are a lazy and grimy people who will not work. ... They are idle, and like to sit without doing anything (Jolquart Iversen, 1667)
The major work of the men is to lie about, unless hunger drives them (Johan Schreyer, 1679)
If they are not hungry they will not work (Christopher Fryke, 1681), quoted in R. Raven-Hart, Cape ofGood Hope 1652-1702.The First Fifty years of Dutch Colonisation as seen by Callers',(Cape Town, 1971), Vol.1, pp. 22,103; Vol. 2, y. 234.
...they secure for themselves a luxurious idleness; they never till the soil, they sow nothing, they reap nothing, they take no heed what they shall eat or drink (Ten Rhyne,
1686 in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, p. 123).
They are, without doubt, both in body and mind, the laziest people under the sun ... Their whole earthly happiness seems to lie in indolence and supinity (Peter Kolb, 1719,The Present State of the Cape of Good Hope, Vol. 1, translated by Medley,(London, 1731), p. 46. This is a bowdlerised version of P. Kolb | en | ,Caput Bonae Spei Hodiernum, das ist, Vollstandige Deschveibung des 'Afrikanischen Vorgebirges der Gutten Hoffnung, Nurnberg, 1719.)
cf. Grevenbroek, who did not join in this chorus of condemnation, in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, pp. 271-73. Some of 'the natives... toil more submissively than Spartan helots', ibid., p. 271
M. Weber,The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Talcott Parsons (trans.) introduction by A. Giddens (London, 1984), pp. 157-58.
Foucault,Madness and Civilization, pp. 48-55.
Mentzel,Cape of Good Hope, Vol. 1, p. 263.
W. Burchell,Travels in the interior of South Africa (1822), (London, 1953), Vol. 1, p. 80.
Mentzel,Cape of Good Hope, I, p. 272.
Ibid., p. 263.
Ibid., p. 260.
Ibid., p. 272.
Sparrman,A Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, I, p. 209.
The two realms have an intertwined history, since the two separate processes combine to constitute the same subject-object. This symbiotic relationship was to dominate racial theories in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Various instances of such practices are cited by H. Giliomee, 'The Eastern Frontier, 1770-1812', inThe Shaping of South African Society, 1652-1820, R. Elphick and H. Giliomee (eds)(Cape Town, 1979), pp. 316-20.
J.A. Truter to Strockenstrom, 7 April, 1810, cited in ibid., pp. 318, 335.
Ibid., pp. 319-20.
C.W. De Kiewiet,A History of South Africa, Social and Economic, (Oxford 1941), pp. 34-5.
Proclamation: Contracts of Hire for Hottentots. November 1809. 'That all and every Hottentot in the different Districts of this Colony... shall have a fixed Place of Abode in some one of the Districts, and that an entry of the same shall be made in the Office of the Fiscal... and that they shall not be allowed to change their place of abode from one District to another, without a Certificate from the Fiscal... while every Hottentot neglecting this order, shall be considered as a Vagabond, and be treated accordingly.' Extract published inWhat They Said 1795-1910, A selection of documents from South African History, V.C. Malherbe, (. ed.), (Cape Town, 1971), P. :10
He provides an archaeology of the perception and concept of the 'wild man' from the Greek and Judeo-Christian period, to the end of the Middle Ages, when these varying perceptions culminated into the opposing views of Noble and Ignoble Savage. White in 'The Forms of Wildness', inThe Wild Man Within, pp. 3-39.
Ibid., p. 28.
Grevenbroek, in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, p. 175. In an even more startling comment Grevenbroek continued '...and in whiteness of body they are equal to some....', idem.
Grevenbroek, in Schapera, Early Cape Hottentots, p. 173.
From the mid-seventeenth century travellers' depictions of 'primitive' peoples came to be associated with political and social criticism. Comparison with European cultural norms 'primitive life' served as a model for Europe itself. By the mid-eighteenth century, non-European cultures were examined in efforts to explain the origins of society. Rousseau's interest in primitive man was part of the general preoccupation to apply lessons for primitive societies to the problems of the development of human culture. See G. Symcox, 'The Wild Man's Return: The Enclosed Vision of Rousseau's Discourses', inThe Wild Man Within, pp. 223-47.
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiastical and Civil (London, 1651), part 1, Ch. 13, pp.62, 63.
According to Derrida the concept of the supplement 'determines that of the representative image - harbors within itself two significations whose cohabitation is as strange as it is necessary. The supplement adds itself, it is a surplus, a plenitude enriching another plenitude, the fullest measure of presence. It cumulates and accumulates presence. It is thus that art, techne, image, representation, convention, etc., come as supplements to nature and are rich with this entire cumulating function.' J. Derrida,Of Grammotology, G. C. Spivak (trans.' (Baltimore, 1976), pp. 144-5.
Ibid., p. 145.
The description is based on Ten Rhyne, in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, pp. 123-39.
Ibid., p. 123.
A Voyage to East-India in The Travels of Sig. Pietro della Valle, a Noble Roman into East-India and Arabia Deserts (1665), quoted in M.E. Novak,'The Wild Nan Comes to Tea 'inThe Wild Man Within, p. 188.
Dapper, in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, p. 57.
Ten Rhyne, ibid., p. 133.
Quoted in Novak,The Wild Man Within, pp. 188-89.
Landdrost Alberts, Uitenhage to Janssens, 12 June 1805, quoted in J.S. Marais,Maynier and the First Boer Republics (Cape Town, 1944), p. 73- William Petty, one of the founders of the Royal Society had written some decades before that though there were differences between individual men, 'there be others more considerable, that is, between the Guiny Negroes and the Middle Europeans; and of the Negroes between those of Guiny and those who live about the Cape of Rood Hope, [the Hottentots], which last, are the most beastlike of all the Souls [sorts?] of Men with whom our travellers are well acquainted'. (Quoted in M. Legassick, 'The frontier tradition in South African historiography', inEconomy and society in pre-industrial South Africa, S. Marks and A. Atmore (eds), (London, 1980), p"155, and in W.D. Jordan,White over Black: American Attitudes towards the Negro, 1550-1812 (Chapel Hill, 1968), pp. 224-5.
Ten Rhyne, in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, p. 153.
In this period the opposition between nature and culture indicate the lines of differentiation between the human and the animal. In Europe itself the question of language occupied a central place in the debates about 'wolf children. Children who were raised in isolation, featured in philosophical and scientific debates on the roles of nature and nurture in human development. The common interest stems from the way that these children hinge on the boundary between nature and culture. The relations of conceptions of 'wildness' in western intellectual debates are surveyed in Novak, 'The Wild Man Comes to Tea', in,The Wild Man Within, pp. 186-200. On the notion of ' wildness 'In Europe before the eighteenth century, see R. Bernheimer in Wild Men in the Middle Ages, (Cambridge, Mass., 1952).
This appears in Foucault's analyses of the Port-Royal-Grammar, (1660) which studied the reasons which are put to work in different languages. Foucault, OT, pp. 58-71.
The following exposition is derived from Foucault's analyses of representation of the sign in the Classical Age, Foucault, OT, pp. 58-71.
S. Butler, 'The Ladies Answer to the Knight', 11. 233-36, inHudibras J. Wilders (ed.) (Oxford, 1967), p. 317.
Ten Ryhne, in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, p. 113.
Ibid., p. 125.
Journal of 29 July 1674, cited in Schapera,Early Cape Hottentots, pp. 124-5, fn. 24.
F. Le Vaillaint,Travels into the Interior Parts of Africa by way of the Cape of Good Hope in the years 1700, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85 (London, 1790). Vol. 11, pp. 49-50.
Francois Valentyn an early traveller at the Cape, noted, 'I have seen some who dwelt for 15 or 16 years with the Dutch, dressed themselves entirely, and in all respects like Dutchmen, and even made voyages with us to the Indies and Holland... but upon return to the Cape, at once went back to the Hottentots, and to the old free way of life.' F. Valentyn,Description of the Cape of Good Hope with Matters Concerning it (Cape Town, 1973), Vol. I, p. 73.
Foucault, OT, pp. 138-44.
T. Bendyshe, 'The History of Anthropology',Memoirs of the Anthropological Society of London, 1, (1863-64), pp. 424-25.
See 'Chain of Being',Dictionary of the History of Science, W. Bynum, E. Browne, R. Porter, (eds)(London, 1903); also see A.O. Love joy.The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Cambridge, Mass., 1936).
Cited in W.D. Jordan,White over Black, p. 223.
Ibid., p. 224.
S.L. Gilman,Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality Race, and Madness (Ithaca, 1985), pp. 83-4.
F. Fanon,Black Skins White Masks, (New York, 1967) p. 188.
F. Fanon, 'Racism and Culture', inTowards the African Revolution,(New York,1967), p. 48.
F. Fanon,Black Skins White Masks, p. 110.
Doman, a Khoikhoi interpreter, said this of Eva: 'see, there comes the advocate of the Dutch; she will tell her people some stories and lies and will finally betray them all.' Quoted in R. Elphick,Kraal and Castle Khoikhoi and the Founding of White South Africa, (Newhaven and London, 1977), and p.109.
Elphick,Kraal and Castle, p. 203.
Ibid., p. 203.
See Fanon, 'Racism and Culture', inTowards an African Revolution (New York, 1967).
F. Fanon,Black Skins White Masks (New York, 1967).
By the end of the eighteenth century, the structure of European dominance at the Cape was entrenched in a binary opposition between European and non-European which encompassed the perception and treatment of blacks and the relationship with them. The Cape had become 'a colony sui generis', in which the white community, company officials and burghers included, had acquired an identity of its own within a new society where Europeans, Company servants and freeburghers dominated non-Europeans, indigenous 'aliens' as the Khoikhoi were known, and a growing number of slaves.1 This chapter will enquire how blacks came in this period to be perceived and discursively constructed as uncivilised.
By 1780, settlement at the Cape had been transformed from a station on the way to the east into a colonial society in its own right.2 A refreshment station, which had to be defended against assault by sea, and supplied from its hinterland, had every argument for keeping 'amiable' relations with the natives (who supplied the stations with cattle and other goods).3 By the end of the eighteenth century, however, the settlement had expanded to cover a considerable hinterland with a growing population of Europeans, slaves, Khoikhoi and Xhosa.
By 1780 relations between the Company, which wanted to keep the Cape as a tightly controlled station, and the settlers had reached a breaking point. The Company's monopoly stood in the way of the agricultural and commercial development which the settlers wanted. The Company monopolised trade with passing ships, and Company officials, and the old Cape families who identified with them, had most of the better jobs.4 Settlers outside this charmed circle were left to scratch a living from farming, or from hunting or bartering. By the 1780s, the 'bushmen' to the north and the Xhosa to the east had cut off the settlements' easy access to land. The quality of available pasture and stock declined, and the number of poor colonists, dependent resentfully on the well-to-do, grew. The familiar strains of conflict between tidewater and piedmont were being experienced in the Cape colony, just as they were on the other side of the Atlantic in the Thirteen American colonies. The settlers, looking in vain to the Company to help them with their troubles on the frontier with the Xhosa, or to strengthen their uncertain grip over Khoikhoi labour, expressed their grievances in the Cape Patriot Movement.
The white settlers were not, however, socially or economically homogeneous, as the large differences between the settlers at the Cape and the isolated cattle farmers of the interior show. The Cape settlers, consisting of government officials (some born at the Cape) and the few prosperous farmers who worked wheat lands and vineyards with slave labour under the supervision of white foremen, were the dominant group.5 But they did not command the sympathy of most whites in Cape Town or of the more numerous smaller farmers in southwestern Cape, whose sympathies tended to be with the settlers of the interior. The men of the Cape regarded these trekboers as uncultured, while the trekboers felt exploited by the elites of the tidewater.6 Yet notwithstanding these internal differences, by the end of the eighteenth century most settlers (as opposed to European-born Company officials) had begun to regard themselves as 'Afrikaners', a term of identity which signified a settler society that had planted its roots in African soil.7 'Afrikaner' was a term consciously used by the white settler community to set themselves apart from officials, sailors, and above all from slaves and the Khoikhoi.
Significantly, the white community soon began to create powerful distinctions between themselves and the blacks. By conceiving of themselves as 'burghers', 'Christians' and inhabitants, the whites saw themselves as distinct from and superior to non-burghers, slaves, heathens and aliens. In 1803 Governor Janssens remarked of the Cape whites that 'they call themselves people and Christians, and the Kaffirs and Hottentots heathens, and on the strength of this consider themselves entitled to anything'.8 This overriding sense of cohesion and unity was centred on the notion of being white' and 'European'. Marriages between white and black were unusual but, given the chronic shortage of white women, miscegenation was not, though Asian and 'half breed' women were preferred to the Khoikhoi.9 Most interracial sexual relations were between white men and slave women, and their children tended to live with their mothers and remained slaves.10 Since slaves were black, slavery enabled the whites to propagate a mixed race while pretending to keep their own race pure. The offspring of white and black miscegenation, known as 'Bastaards', were seen to belong to the same category as the non-Europeans.
Given the concern to keep white and black separate, racial distinctions overrode the distinction of class. Many whites were quite as poor as the blacks, but poor whites strove not to be identified with the 'Bastaards' or blacks. Moreover, by 1750 almost half the free male white population owned qt least one slave,11 so even relatively poor whites could aspire to own a slave. The proclamation that 'no slave might jostle or otherwise behave in an ill-disposed way [qualyk te bejeegenen] towards a European even if he was of the meanest rank,'12 hinted that race not class was what mattered in Cape society. Well-to-do whites wanted a society stratified along the lines of race rather than class. In choosing their wives they unquestionably preferred landless whites to blacks or 'bastaards'; and the arbiters of opinion regularly condemned 'those who miscegenate with Kafirs and Hottentots'. In these matters, poor whites identified with the wealthier whites, insisting on the rights and dignities due to them as 'burghers'. Even when they were landless, they clung to their status as freeburghers and sometimes-preferred living as tenants (bijwooners) on the land of white farmers than as more independent persons outside.13
To begin with, the Khoikhoi were left under the sway of their traditional authorities rather than being made subject to the laws and government of the Dutch East India Company. But by 1795 they had been incorporated as labourers into a society dominated by Europeans and ruled by Dutch law. With the structure of their traditional life in ruin, some Khoikhoi attached themselves to white farmers as indentured labourers, others took- refuse in mission stations, and the rest roamed the countryside in vagrant bands. By the end of the eighteenth century whites had occupied all the lands once inhabited by the Khoikhoi, who found themselves reduced to a servile relationship with their conquerors. Although the Company maintained the official line that the Khoikhoi remained free men, once they had been dispossessed of their lands, they were completely at the mercy of the colonist. Labour-repressive practices, involuntary servitude, the indenture system, and pass laws and vagrancy regulations which curbed their mobility, put an end to even the semblance of Khoikhoi freedom.14
Since the Cape needed labour, the Company from the start encouraged the import of slaves. The first slaves came from Angola, and later mainly from Madagascar.15 Regulated by the statutes of India, slaves were the property of owners, who had complete power and control over their lives. Since of course none of the slaves was white, the colonists came to associate the black with slaves: as Thunberg mentioned in his 'Travels', 'The social distance between Khoikhoi and slaves decreased: if the two groups did not always live together, they did perform the same tasks and usually ate a common meal." Europeans came increasingly to disregard the legal distinctions between slaves and other blacks. In death, as in life, the divide was starkly "resent: there were even separate places of execution for Europeans and for Khoikhoi and slaves. By the 1740s the term 'meid' (or slave woman) was commonly applied to the Khoikhoi. In the 1770s, Sparrman observed that majority of Khoikhoi are slaves;' slavery, everyone realised, had begun permeate the entire structure of colonial society.16
Slavery also affected white attitudes to labour. Manual service was seen to diminish the proper role of whites who all had the status of a person. As an observer at the Cape remarked in 1743, 'Having imported slaves, every common or ordinary European becomes a gentleman and prefers to be served than to serve... and many of them consider it a shame to work with their hands'.17 Regulations to control slaves provided the precedents for laws to control native labour. Colonists who had complete personal control over their slaves sought a similar degree of control over the Khoikhoi. For example, the indenture system, under which children of slaves and Khoikhoi women were apprenticed for a specific period, was often imposed on Khoikhoi children whose fathers were not slaves. The pass system for slaves was extended to native blacks to regulate their movements. As the frontier began to close, colonists were ready to use any means to control labour and prevent, it escaping beyond the frontier. Not surprisingly, the power-relationship between colonist and slave was extended to the native population as a whole.
In the later eighteenth century Cape society, a hierarchical order drawn on racial lines, came to feel the influence of Enlightenment thinking in two main, but potentially contradictory ways. When the British became masters of the Cape, they brought with them a new concern for the rights and liberties of subject peoples. Evangelicals and missionaries campaigned against the slave trade and called for the protection of 'aboriginal people'. Missionaries such as Van der Kemp, Read and Philip, brought the sufferings of the native blacks to the public eye, and eventually achieved, in principle at least, 'equal protection and equal justice' for all subjects.18 But on the other hand, the Cape Patriot movement of the local settlers produced a catalogue of grievances against English rule and demanded self-government, also using the language of the Enlightenment, with its calls for liberty and equality. Given the racial structure of Cape society, the question had been raised of how the settlers could survive as Europeans, civilized men and Christians in a colony where blacks were made equal to whites. The trajectory of racism during this period travelled along these two potentially divergent paths: the British attempting to introduce reforms and to establish legal equality between colonists and blacks, and the colonists rejecting such attempts.
British Perceptions of 'Primitive' Peoples
By the end of the eighteenth century, studies of 'primitive' peoples, more systematic now than in the past, saw European society as the model which primitive peoples should strive to emulate. But the closer study of primitive peoples called in its turn for social and political scientists, philosophers and biologists to address themselves to large questions about race, environment and culture. The central question was whether the racial characteristics of Africans would help or hinder the efforts to civilize them. Evangelists, reformers and humanitarians believed that the traits commonly found among black peoples could be erased under the right conditions, and this encouraged the early nineteenth century belief that Europe could draw Africa and Asia into the Great Commercial Republic of the World. But, as Winwood Reade stated, '...those people will never begin to advance... until they enjoy the rights of man; and these they will never obtain except by means of European contact.19
These views took shape under changing epistemic conditions. The episteme created by general grammar, natural history and the theory of wealth, gradually gave way to one in which the 'primitive' was reified. The theme of order was replaced by that of history, and as Foucault has reminded us, new definitions emerged - labour, language and life. Economics replaced the theory of wealth, biology supplanted natural history and in the study of language, philology took the place of general grammar.20 The new episteme gave rise to three essential paradigms: function and norm, conflict and rule, signification and system.
(1) The functional transcended the normative point of view and this enabled a pathological psychology to exist alongside a non-pathological psychology. In the same way, irrational and quasi-morbid forms of belief found a place in the pathology of societies.
(2) Where conflict had more weight than rule, it was held that certain conflicts could not simply be overcome, and that individuals and societies alike ran the risk of being destroyed by them.
(3) Signification was seen as more important than system, and so a distinction was made between significant and non-significant. From this it followed that there was meaning in certain societies but not in others.21
These formulations provided the context during the nineteenth century in which the discourse on non-Western societies came to be classified into two groups: these were the discourses based on a functional perspective and the assertion of the primacy of European society, founded on the paradigms of conflict and significance and their philosophical implications. Thus the analysis of 'primitive' societies, abnormal, backward, illiterate, and unprogressive, also served to explain the normality, dynamism, progress and achievements of the 'civilized world'. In arguing that society was becoming more civilised, Hugh Murray supported his theory of progress with ethnographic data.22 The idea of progress was a principal factor in the assertion of the superiority and dynamism of Western civilization. In Ferguson's 'Of General Characteristics of Human Nature', man is distinguished from other creatures by being progressive. In describing the progress of society from 'rudeness' to 'refinement', Ferguson characterised European society (of which he was nonetheless very critical) as 'civil society', a society 'polished' and 'refined', in contrast with 'rude' or 'savage' society, a society with regular government and political subordinates as opposed to the 'state of nature'.23 In this spectrum, African societies were seen as representing early stages in the development of human society.24
The Enlightenment had viewed mankind as moving in stages from the savage to the barbarian and finally to the civilised. Savages possessed no writing, metals or domesticated animals; barbarians had metals and domesticated animals; civilized nations were blessed with industry and arts.25 Ferguson characterized 'savagery' as a state of society in which private property was virtually unknown and barbarism as one in which it had been introduced. The savage stage was characterized by hunting and fishing; the barbarous stage could be either pastoral or agricultural, depending on soil and climate. These two primitive stages were to be found in all parts of the world. Civilization, however, was confined to temperate regions in which 'mankind have twice, within the compass of history, ascended from rude beginnings to very high degrees of refinement.'26 Whatever their differences of opinion on why some societies were uncivilised, the Enlightenment was in broad agreement about the classification of races and their development. It laid the foundations for a model in which African societies were seen as 'early stages' in the history of mankind. These stages also served as conceptual instruments to carve out a field of enquiry into human possibilities: they operated as symbols to represent a relationship between two areas of experience, civilized and uncivilized, and most importantly, they were signs designating the existence of societies whose attributes differed radically from those of civilized society. This paved the way for a conception of a divided humanity where the savage or barbarian belonged to the natural order. Unrefined and primitive, the savage was without fixed habitat, religion, and laws; he was the embodiment of the human being at the state of origins. Although represented the infancy of civilized man, the savage was nonetheless believed to be capable of being led to a state of civilization. It was with ideas such as these that the British began their civilizing mission at the Cape.
Humanitarianism and Evangelism; Imperial Power of the Same
In the early nineteenth century, a Select Parliamentary Committee investigated the conditions of aborigines in British colonies. Its findings resulted in a proclamation of the rights and liberties of native peoples under British rule. The report concluded that
... as an enlightened and Christian people, we are at least bound to do the inhabitants of other lands, whether enlightened or not, as we should in similar circumstances desire to be done by; but beyond the obligations of common honesty, we are bound by two considerations with regard to the uncivilized; first that of the ability which we possess to confer upon them the most important benefits; and, secondly, that of their inability to resist any encroachments, however unjust, however mischievous, which we may be disposed to make. The disparity of the parties, the strength of the one, and the incapacitation of the other to enforce the observance of their rights, constitutes a new and irresistible appeal to our compassionate protection.27
This statement of concern for native peoples was the result of pressures exerted by humanitarian groups and evangelical societies.28 Wilberforce, their archpriest, saw African barbarism from an historical perspective, with civilization spreading northwards and westward from Mesopotamia, 'the original seat of the human race' to Egypt, Phoenicia, Greece and Rome, and ultimately to north-west Europe, with Africa remaining cut off from the rest of mankind. Contact with the West would enable Africa's level of civilization to advance. Within this discourse, it is interesting that there is no statement of the African's inherent and unalterable inferiority to whites. Dr John Philip,29 Resident Director in Cape Town and South African Superintendent of the London Society of Missionaries, who is sometimes known as the Wilberforce of South Africa, wrote:
We are all born savages, whether we are brought into the world in the populous city or in the lonely desert. It is the discipline of education, and the circumstances under which we are placed, which create the difference between the rude barbarian and the polished citizen - the listless savage and the man of commercial enterprise.30
Within the humanitarian discourse, the argument for equality is the Sameness of man, external conditions being the determinants of Western superiority and African inferiority. It is precisely this reasoning that enabled the early nineteenth century to reconcile the expansion of empire with the mission of civilising the African.
The humanitarians believed that African backwardness could be transformed by the process of cultural diffusion and by the introduction of western institutions and law. Wilberforce put the question, 'How is it that civilization and the arts grow up in any country? His answer was that the reign of law and of civil order must first be established. 'From law', says another writer,
...arises security; from security, curiosity; from curiosity, knowledge. As property is accumulated, industry is excited, a taste for new gratification is formed, comforts of all kinds multiply, and the arts and sciences naturally spring and flourish in a soil and climate thus prepared for their reception.31
Dr Philip was speaking for evangelical and humanitarian alike when he declared that 'increased civilisation and perfection' was the legislator's aim.32 The humanitarian reformers believed that blacks could be radically transformed through institutional and legal reforms. The rule of law would create the conditions for the civilizing process; its purpose was to make civil', to 'police' the uncivilized. The word 'civilization' itself expressed the drive of enlightened society towards achieving what ought to be and represented the convictions of what was right and the certainty that progress was the rule of the future.33 Civilizing blacks and the metamorphosis of African life and culture would require codes of laws and, in Philip's view, the spread of Christianity. Christianity and commerce would so hand in hand, and the interests of the empire would be served by missionary activity among savage peoples.
*NB Chap 5-repetition of this quote* While our missionaries, beyond the borders of the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, are everywhere scattering the seeds of civilization, social order, and happiness, they are, by the most unexceptional means, extending British interests, British influence, and the British empire.
Wherever the missionary places his standard among a savage tribe, their prejudices against the colonial government give way; their dependence upon the colony is increased by the creation of artificial wants; confidence is restored; intercourse with the colony is established; industry, trade and agriculture spring up; and every genuine convert from among them made to the Christian religion becomes the ally and friend of the colonial government.34
According to Philip. these transformations would represent 'triumphs of reason over ignorance, of civilization over barbarism, and of benevolence over cruelty and oppression'.35 They were conceived of in terms of hierarchy and difference, and were structured around the oppositions of reason and ignorance, civilization and barbarism.
Trusteeship was seen as the obligation of colonial rulers to ensure the humane treatment of 'subject' people under their control. The philosophical and moral justification of colonial rule was that 'backward' peoples had disabilities, but since they also had rights, it was the duty of the more developed to be the trustee or guardian of the less developed.36 Edmund Burke, to whom the genesis of this concept of trusteeship owed much, argued that:
all political power which is set over men, and... all privilege claimed or exercised in exclusion of them, being wholly artificial, and for so much a derogation from the natural equality of mankind at large, ought to be some way or other exercised ultimately for their benefit.37
British rule brought with it to the Cape this principle of trusteeship. Political domination had to benefit the black and the European had the duty to spread civilization and Christianity. African inferiority called for the same protection accorded to women and children. Trusteeship involved a specific style for dominating and restructuring the 'backward' and 'child' races. It was a relationship which encompassed everything to do with blacks; it also introduced new networks of interventions and interests which inevitably came to bear upon blacks.
The missionary was at the forefront of the drive for a more enlightened and sympathetic British policy. Missionary enterprise was viewed as a vital civilizing force and Christianity and commerce were conveniently and inseparably linked together. As Philip hoped, the missionary would clear the way for ‘the triumph of science; increase the produce of the earth, by multiplying the hands employed in its cultivation; and create new demands for the manufacture of his own country, while he is lessening the miseries of his fellow creatures, elevating savages and barbarians to a state of civilization, and cheering them with the hope of a life to come’.38
There seemed here to be the makings of a natural alliance between the missionary and humanitarian on the one hand and native peoples on the other.39 Humanitarian plans for reforming Africans, although expressed in secular terms, fitted well with Christian concepts of charity and equality. As Klaus Knorr has explained:
the spirit of egalitarianism and brotherhood and its belief in human perfectibility found expression in a novel code of humanitarian ethics... it issued in the Evangelical movement which had been growing steadily since its inception by the early Methodists. Thus in respect of many objects of reform, there was an alliance, though not in spirit and motivation, between the Evangelicals and Rethamites.40
Yet missionary enterprise, despite its concern to protect the natives, had is its ultimate aim the destruction of traditional African life, both spiritual and cultural, and its replacement with Christian societies in the image of Europe. Missionary discourses were the product of a cultural model, which called for the total metamorphosis of African life. Africa was wild and barbaric, a world untamed. In the words of one of the early missionaries at the Cape, Robert Moffat, Africa's 'interior regions continue a mystery to the white man, a land of darkness and of terror to the most fearless and enterprising traveller.'41 Mission stations would serve to despatialize the wilderness and unknown lands, and under the aegis of the missionary, this despatialization would bring with it a process of psychic interiorization.42 The moral benefits of work and industry, and above all Christianity, would encourage the savage into civilised habits of life. The missionary was thus an appropriate symbol of the colonial enterprise, dedicating himself as he did to the ideals of colonization; the expansion of civilization, the dissemination of Christianity and the advance of progress.
In its early phase, British rule, influenced by humanitarianism and evangelistic ideals, remained locked inside an Eurocentric vision which saw Western civilization as the dynamic model for mankind in its march towards progress. The historical discourse was posited on European dynamism and African primitiveness, a dialectical relation between man's origin and his infinite possibilities for the future. Thus the civilizing and reforming of blacks proposed an explanation for forcing them into a new historical dimension, and blacks were characterised as primitive and stagnant, while the means by which they were to be exploited and 'regenerated' were being fashioned.43
The Reformation of African Society
The coming of British rule to the Cape transformed the old political order and inaugurated a period of 'reform'. It was now accepted that the 'duty' and 'obligation' of the British was to civilise the aboriginal peoples.44 In governing the Cape, and in attempting to shape it anew, the British faced a complex and independent reality with its own self-regulating mechanisms. It involved the domination of physical space, the domestication of the indigenous peoples, the incorporation of traditional African societies into a Western mould, and their management from a Western perspective.45
In hisResearches on South Africa, Philip wanted to provide the reformers with a better understanding of the situation, its specific characteristics, its constants and variables.
Philip saw his mission as raising 'the voice of humanity' against 'the clamour of passion and selfishness'. He criticised the oppressive practices of the colonists towards the blacks: 'The secluded condition of the greater part of the South African farmers, the power thrown into their hands by the weakness of government, their situation in the midst of a population of slaves and Hottentots over whom they can tyrannize without control, is as unfavourable to the civilization of the farmers themselves, as it is to the happiness and improvement of those under them'.46 The conditions under which blacks lived had to be improved; political reforms and missionary education were to be the agencies for this improvement:
Such is the system that is now followed, that I can see nothing before the Caffres but slavery or extermination if they are not educated. Education would teach them that their true interest is to be at peace with the colony... and fit them for coming under the colonial Government.47
Two main features characterised British rule: the reform of political and legal institutions to restore the rights of the subjects and the rehabilitation of blacks through the establishment of mission stations. But the black population remained doubly opaque from the British angle of vision. Its traditional modes of existence were totally different from those of the English. As Philip commented, 'Individually savages may be as rational (as far as their observation goes) as Europeans, but it is in union and government that they lack the justice and lawfulness of civilized nations. The power of the chief... tends to express force rather than justice.’48 African modes of governance were seen as unsatisfactory, particularly from the point of view of discipline, since ‘without a religious basis for their civilization they use their knowledge only to rob their neighbours and then lose all again in their marauding expeditions.’49 The remedy would be to impose civilized principles upon Africans and to inculcate among them civilised habits of life: hence the extension of British law and giving blacks equality with whites under that law. Blacks and the Khoikhoi especially were notorious for being vagrants and nomads, which made it difficult to fix them into a disciplinary grid: 'When men have no settled homes... it is easy for them to desert the means of instruction on any provocation.'50 As Foucault could see, discipline is anti-nomadic; 'discipline fixes; it arrests or regulates movements... it dissipates compact groupings of individuals wandering about the country in unpredictable ways; it establishes calculated distributions'.51 Caledon's proclamation of 1809, which, has been viewed as a reformist measure to protect the Khoikhoi, was enacted precisely to curb black mobility.52
These legal codes did not so much protect as control the blacks; they enabled African life to be domesticated.53 As Governor Caledon proclaimed, blacks now had civil obligations as well as rights 'in the same manner as all inhabitants'. Twenty years later. Ordinance 50 of 1828 repealed all existing laws relating to the Khoikhoi, and stipulated that ‘no Hottentot or other free Person of colour... shall be subject to any compulsory service... nor to any hindrance, molestation, fine, imprisonment or punishment of any kind whatsoever, under the pretence that such Person has been guilty of vagrancy....’54 Blacks had now to obey laws which imposed obligations and constraints; they were also more vulnerable to manipulation and control. The new codes, it was hoped, would help to impose a social order which would make the colony more congenial for whites. And the transformation of the African from alien to colonial subject could thus be achieved. This combination of humanitarian and missionary pressures affected the reforms which culminated in Ordinance 50 of 1828.55 The Ordinance gave the Khoikhoi equal status and lifted all the restrictions placed on them by Caledon's code.56 Ordinance 50, while establishing 'equal protection and equal justice' for all subjects, created the legal framework which placed labour and civic relations upon a contractual basis.57 The abolition of slavery in 1834 also brought the formal repeal of restrictive statutory regulations on Khoikhoi and slaves. But the blacks had no means of subsistence other than working for white employers on whatever terms that were offered to them. In 'practice, domination survived the reforms.
But these humanitarian efforts were intended to be more than a simple tactic to improve the conditions of blacks, though it was that as well. These reforms transformed the terms of engagement between white colonists and black subjects; they shifted the moral basis of the older conceptions about blacks and their treatment, and at the same time they established new forms of control and discipline over blacks. They marked the beginnings of the exercise of a new disciplinary power, in which control over blacks was intended to make them docile and productive. Hence the emphasis on the moral benefits of work and industry, and education's role in preparing blacks for their entry into civilized society. Imperial trusteeship demanded the ending of the inhumane treatment to which blacks in the past had been subjected.58 This was portrayed as nothing less than a liberation. That liberation was taking place in two forms: the transformation of the regime of racist practices dating back to the previous century, with the other becoming the Same defined by equality; and the founding of a completely new institution by which blacks would be encouraged to break away from their traditional past. Technologies of African reformation were in the process of entering the history of the Same.
But blacks were now liberated in order to be oppressed in a different way. Their liberation was little more than a change in the form of their oppression, the empty relationship between philanthropists imbued with humane feelings and blacks waiting to be recognised as humans. Yet there is perhaps another dimension to the change. The humane treatment which the reformers hoped to ensure through the extension of legal equality brought 'reason' and 'civilisation' to the blacks. The black becomes civilized by assuming the character of a civilized European. He is obedient to the missionary and the philanthropist, guardians of Christianity and Western civilization; he adheres to the rules of the establishment, and keeps the peace by accepting the social, political and economic order. Being civilized entails giving up savage ways and being inducted into an ordered and hierarchical world characterized by virtues of obedience, loyalty and responsibility. Thus the liberation of blacks, through Ordinance 50, was not a simple gesture prompted by the recognition that blacks were human. It represented a stage in the process by which blacks exchanged their chains and manacles for the tighter constraints of moral suasion and obedience.
The ultimate consequences of these reforms upon blacks can be best understood by examining the nature of the civilizing process. The transformation of black society was projected in terms of 'what it ought to be', a carefully designed and orderly place which the colonizer would inhabit and dominate. Significantly the word 'civilize' replaced the older word 'police', and this meant being 'ruled by law and order, an organized society, a predictable society, a transparent society.'59 But 'civilising' no less than 'policing', involved assumptions about the nature of black men, their malleability and how their identity could be formed. In the first place the black in his savage condition represented a threat to the civilized order of European society. Since he lived within a state of nature (isolated from other cultures), he was controlled by his instincts alone, which could be dangerous. The unrefined nature and backwardness of the savage could be remedied by the continuous effort of the civilized European. Secondly, since blacks could only be led out of their savage state by the civilized European, the European had a moral obligation to save them from their natural predilections. Thirdly, the objective of the European civilizer entailed replacing natural drives with moral and social laws. Fourthly, civilized laws were in an oppositional relation to savage laws, since civilization was construed as being the antithesis of the savage which vas characterised as uncivilized. The black as uncivilized was the negative of the European civilizer. For the black as savage to become civilized was to negate his savage past and affirm the ideas that the civilizer had imposed. The black had to condemn the state of being uncivilized; only then could he become civilised. Condemnation of the self was the necessary condition for an affirmation of the self. The civilizer taught the uncivilised black that his ways were wrong and that he had to learn the correct ways of civilization. The alterity of the black implicit in the oppositional relationship - civilized/uncivilized - was the ultimate truth of racism in this period, since it was racism's organizing form and the determining principle of all its manifestations.
The language of reform was thus a language of projection. Blacks were described as backward, cruel, and unreasonable, and only through the 'benevolence' of the philanthropist could they be 'protected' and improved. But beneath these gestures of 'humane' concern, there lay a series of operations to organise the world of blacks. More than a philanthropic awareness, a political motive was present. As Foucault points out, the effects of the Enlightenment were the multiplication of 'reason's political powers'. A specific political technology was in the process of being fashioned to create colonial subjects through Western forms of control and rehabilitation which later were to furnish colonial administrations with the effective means of dominating Africans.
The perceptions formed in this period about blacks influenced the information that was gathered and the knowledge that was built up about their behaviour and the nature of their societies. More importantly, these perceptions enabled the British to view Africans as possessing regular characteristics and to deal with them accordingly. Yet this knowledge was one-sided: the African was silent, unable to resist British projects that involved the 'native inhabitants', and incapable of challenging the images and descriptions which were designed for them. These discourses enabled the British to govern blacks in accordance with their unchallenged construct of black history, character and destiny.
While the reformers were involved in the task of disciplining the African peoples, it was the missionary who was the direct agent and disseminator of Western culture and religion. The significance of the missionary enterprise, Robert Moffat could see, was that:
all methods of effecting the civilization of Africa, apart from the Gospel of Christ, have hitherto proved abortive... in every instance where the Gospel has been introduced, it has effected a complete revolution in the character and habits of its people.60
The missionary premise that Christianity was infinitely superior to African religion (or rather the absence of religion) fortified convictions of European cultural superiority. Cultural superiority in its turn was identified with racial superiority: white superiority was founded on Europe's religious, social and industrial achievements. Not only had the African to accommodate himself to the moral exigencies of Western Christianity, he was also circumscribed by a series of attitudes and judgements which attempted to correct and remove him from his savage ways by converting him to Christianity. This was done in 'order to elevate and clear its degraded and sorrowing inhabitants, and introduce them to the fellowship of civilized nations.'61
The specificity of the missionary's engagement and relation to the Africans was that he perceived them in terms of a unique opposition: believing/unbelieving. This position proceeded from the fact that the missionary attributed the 'valued' pole to the European and the rejected pole to the African. This distribution of values was constantly reinforced by the various analogies to which missionaries resorted in order to encourage and explain African conversion. Thus one of the first evangelists to work among the Tswana peoples stated that:
hitherto unknown and unpenetrated domains of paganism are unfolding before us; regions where Satan had his seat, and riots in cruelty and bloodshed.... However imperfect and mixed the native or the heathen may be, they welcome [the Missionaries] to commence their labours. In this we see again the preparing and directive hand of God.62
Black society was characterised in terms of cruelty and bloodshed and the rule of Satan; and this provided the justification for saving it from the tyranny of its own ways.
In missionary discourse the commitment to God was central. Missionaries believed that they were charged with saving Africans by promoting the ideals of Christian civilization; and they were certain that mission stations were the best means of achieving the conversion of Africans. The mission station would work as a refuge in which blacks would be 'salvaged', and provide the conditions for their entry into the community of civilized Christians; religious instruction would achieve the internalisation of virtuous principles and habits of life. Through the acquisition of religious principles at the level of daily practice, religion operated as a constant principle of coercion since it presupposed the negation of traditional African life.63
Firstly, missionary language was derisive; it ridiculed African beliefs as superstitious. In the second place, it was a language of systematic repudiation: African religion was pagan, based on the opposition good/evil in which 'Satan reigns'. Thirdly, the missionary's actions were supported by a language of demonstration which supposedly reflects God's truth. The refutation of non-Christian beliefs and practices sustained this derision, through the missionary's emphasis upon the historical coherence and transforming virtues of Christianity. Religious and biblical categories thus formed a sacred and cultural model in which Christian faith was the only knowledge of the truth. The missionary language of negation represented a cultural position; it expressed an ethnocentric view and a violation of African life. Moffat's somewhat eulogistic description of an earlier missionary, the good Dr Van der Kemp, is redolent of the language of negation:
He came from a university to stoop to teach the alphabet to the poor naked Hottentot and Kafir - from the society of nobles, to associate with beings of the lowest grade in the scale of humanity - from stately mansions to the filthy hovel of the greasy African - from the army, to instruct the fierce savage the tactics of a heavenly warfare under the banner of the Prince of Peace - from the study of physic, to become the guide to the balm in Gilead, and the physician there - and, finally, from a life of earthly honour and ease, to be exposed to perils... of the heathen, in the city, in the wilderness.64
The setting up of mission stations did not herald a 'liberation' for blacks; rather, it entailed their segregation from the rest of the black community into a domain of an imposed morality and ethical uniformity. It also brought about their subjectification through the individualising techniques of what Foucault terms 'pastoral power'.65 Both these features are inextricably linked to the process of African metamorphosis and are discussed further in the next chapter.
In the Protestant missions, everyday life was arranged around Christian principles. The moral benefits of work both for its own sake and as a means of entering the money economy were constantly urged: Models of behaviour involving a high degree of surveillance and supervision were introduced. The key to life in the mission station was its isolation from the rest of black society. The mission station was more than the construction of a Church; it was the creation of a settlement. Napier was such a settlement at the Cape, intended for dispossessed Khoikhoi and freed slaves.66 It was self-contained, and its layout drew upon European conceptions of the village with agricultural lands and areas for grazing. Mission stations or settlements were strictly regulated in plan and construction, and had uniform cottages on a gridiron of pattern of streets', all centred around the main church buildings.67 Structures for stores, schools and recreation facilities were built around a square. A seven-day week with Sunday Sabbath was introduced.68 The mission thus established an ordered space, with a new concept of time, both of which set the terms for inducting blacks into an environment of discipline, surveillance and control. The aim was to establish a high degree of uniformity among the newly converted blacks to make them conform to a new mode of life.
The purpose of the missionary was to replace heathenism (and all its negative aspects) with Christianity (and its positive responsibilities). Protestantism saw the individual as a self-determining agent, capable of planned activity and moral accounting.69 The dutiful were to prove the glory of God. Life was a 'vale of suffering and tears'; through struggle and service man would prove himself to be one of the elect, attaining salvation through his personal efforts. The utilitarian and individual ethic in Protestantism urged the person towards self-construction through rational and punctual duty.70 An entire cosmology was thus implicit in the missionary scheme; a classification of personhood, agency, space and time, all of which were based on a set of binary oppositions between body and mind, flesh and spirit, emotion and reason. Within this system the mission combined religious fervour with sober Calvinist discipline; it offered the blacks a sense of 'self-worth' and 'self-esteem', and sense of individual self, and constructed a systematic and supervised route to moral improvement. The mission thus provided a framework for the spreading of spiritual conversion into the practical details of daily life, situating the individual member within a coherent social and moral community.
Religious training was therefore an essential part of a system whose critical objective (within this context) was to promote obedience and self-restraint. Christianity, according to Foucault, is anchored in the concept of pastoral power, which has three main features: (l) responsibility and accountability - 'In the Christian conception, the shepherd must render an account - not only of each sheep, but of all their actions, all the good or evil they are liable to do.'; (2) obedience as a virtue - 'In Christian thought willpower exerted over oneself; (3) self-examination and guidance of conscience - 'Christian pastorship implies a peculiar type of knowledge between the pastor and each of his sheep. This knowledge is particular. It individualises... each of the sheep must also be known.'71
It was precisely this feature, the individualization of blacks, that enabled missionary discourse to be such a powerful and effective instrument in the transformation of blacks. It introduced a specific relation within the individual black, a relation of self-consciousness in terms of both the missionary who judged him and his own judgement of his people and his past. Freed from the chains of his past, he was now left with a self-referring and self-reflexive consciousness. Awareness was now linked to the shame of having been black, and being forced to despise his past before being able to recognise or know himself. Daniel Kunene described the characteristic sense of anxiety experienced by the mission educated black:
The African intellectual who came out of the missionary school was not only literate but also he was a changed being. He looked about himself and saw nothing but evil. He saw his 'heathen' brothers singing and dancing and drinking... as they thought of the Good Life, and he shook his head in pity. For suddenly these things had become ugly and sinful. No wonder, for, in his school days, this Black intellectual was subjected to teaching materials chosen or prepared with an eye to make them effective instruments for the continuous absorption of the Christian religion. Not only that, but in reading lessons, for example, while the ways of life of the peoples of Western countries were praised in glowing terms, and suitable tribute paid to their national heroes, selections from the oral traditions of the Africans were mostly ones which painted their past black, and the moral, always strongly implied... that they must be grateful for the coming of the white man who had led them out of their dark, dangerous, vile and sinful past. The process of alienation had begun, complex and divisive - Christian and non-Christian drifted apart; worse than that, they began to hate each other.72
The effects of missionary discourse, and its individualizing techniques, were permanent.
Humanitarian intervention and missionary enterprise for the most part enabled the British to deal with Africans in a more refined and systematic way. While the Afrikaner simply dominated Africans, the British used disciplinary techniques in order to enlist the Africans onto their side in terms of values, interests, goals and civilization. Knowledge of the African was translated directly into activity. The result was to feed new currents of thought and action into South Africa, and required from the white man a new assertion of control.
The Afrikaner's view of blacks by the end of the eighteenth century
In the later eighteenth century a traveller to the Cape observed:
the first Europeans in the colony, which comprised various nationalities, have in the course of time intermingled to such an extent that they have become indistinguishable from each other. Even most of those who were born in Europe... have so to speak exchanged their national character for the character of this country.73
By now cohesion among the settlers had emerged, built around colonial grievances and growing demands for self-government. The Burger petition of 1779, calling for the eradication of official malpractices, the end of Company monopolies and the introduction of representative institutions, was a product of the Cape Patriots movement. Its thinking was influenced, among others, by Grotius, Price and Locke.74 Yet the Cape Patriots borrowed their political ideas in a highly selective way; the black had no place in a world built on equality. The 1779 petition should be seen in the context of the Buytendag affair, where a Fiscal arrested a brutal employer of black labourers, and then banished him to Batavia without trial. The 1779 petition's complaint was that 'caffers' had been used to effect the arrest of a white man, and that burghers should have the right to punish their slaves as they pleased.75
In the pamphlets of the Cape Patriots the notion of equality and the 'welfare of the citizenry'76 was set in a context where equality for the black was unthinkable. Democratic principles borrowed from the Enlightenment were adapted to the colonial situation; they served to justify the claims of white 'citizenry', but they denied blacks the rights and privileges of that citizenry. Thus, from the outset, liberty was conceived for whites only. Slaves were excluded from society, since servitude is by definition a relationship exclusively based on power and not a 'social' tie. As for the natives, they belonged to savage races whose mores, customs and beliefs put them beyond the pale of human society. Indeed the Patriots' demand for white egalitarianism was driven forward by the fear that the poor whites might otherwise be depressed into the ranks of the degenerate blacks. A petition to the Governor of the Cape in 1784 anxiously enquired ‘If this country cannot even support the people with who any civilization rests, what will it let happen to those who mix their blood with that of Hottentots and Kaffirs?’77 Anxiety about the condition of the poor white colonists was the driving force behind colonial demands. The colonists
in the present condition of the colony... see the approach of a complete bastardization of morals from so primitive a life-style in the veld, and this in their own beloved progeny.... They must see a completely degenerate nation, which might become just as dangerous for the colony as the Bushman - Hottentots now are.78
The rejection of Equality: Amplification of 'Otherness'
The sources needed for the emerging Afrikaner racist discourse of this period are difficult to locate, since the material is buried in speeches, pamphlets, essays, diaries, and articles in newspapers, which have only recently been excavated by du Toit and Giliomee.79 Afrikaner political thinking, and its distinctively racist ideas, emerged as a discourse which was in the process of being constituted locally and which interacted with a social and political context of protest against changes introduced by the British.
Afrikaner settlers went to extreme lengths to deny any identity, or even the possibility of identity, between black and white. Differences had become rooted in daily life and indicated the irreducible distance between them. The backward and depraved condition of blacks was not amenable to improvement; it was an immutable fact requiring differential legislation and treatment. For example, in 1810 Landdrost Van der Riet objected to Truter's efforts to give the Khoikhoi rights of contract, since such rights were founded on the notion of 'natural liberty' and 'cannot be applied without adaptation to heathens'; the Hottentots 'are generally accounted to be of the most stupid sort, and who therefore never think, nor can think, as Christians do.'80 The Afrikaners denounced all reforms which threatened radically to alter the old order and their grievances centred around the abolition of slavery and the introduction of equality for blacks. The Afrikaner discourse asserted that blacks were different and that these differences dictated how blacks should be treated.
British reforms which gave blacks equality with whites before the law were a threat; they amounted to 'gelykstelling', a levelling which Afrikaners rejected out of hand.81 Afrikaner racist discourse had local and autonomous roots; its validity did not derive from sophisticated and racial theories. It was a product of particular, local and regional knowledge, which had a common thread, namely its inability to come to terms with British reforms. Equality and liberty for the blacks was seen as a threat to the very existence of whites since blacks possessed neither 'reason' nor ‘morals'. Liberty would be a licence to murder, rob, and commit incest.82 This was to remain a recurrent anxiety in Afrikaner racism. Rights for the blacks meant the loss of control by the settlers. As one Afrikaner put it,
But, Sir, you should reflect that it is due to such cases that we no longer have any rights to our property, that the blacks can do as they please and we must go bowed under this burden as there is no longer any justice for us here. Sir, I should wish that the Hottentots be given no rights, because otherwise we shall be obliged to leave our property and to trek as well.83
The Afrikaner wanted to retain control over blacks without let or hindrance from outside. He wanted the power which flows from sovereignty, a power over blacks which was absolute.
The Afrikaner did not accept that blacks could become fully paid up members of society or were ready for liberty and equality.84 Insubordination, vagrancy and crime were, as the Colesberg memorialists complained, a consequence of Ordinance 50, since 'the black population in general have a contempt for all just restraint, are not subject to their superiors, nor satisfied with an equality.... Their conduct may therefore justly |be| styled a system of licentiousness and insubordination.'85 A month later, one of the signatories of the Colesberg memorial explained to Governor Stockenstrom that, 'Liberty without subordination produces insecurity, but liberty with submission and due respect is necessary to our existence.'86
It is generally accepted that behind the Great Trek lay a growing disillusionment among Afrikaners with the reforming British regime at the! Cape. According to one Trekker,
...Another reason assigned by the emigrants is that in the colony they have no control over their servants, that is, no authority whatever to make them attend to their work.... There are a few other reasons of minor importance sometimes given, but I have upon inquiry invariably found that they have not alone sufficient influence to quit. As for instance: 1. An idea that it is the object of the Government to encourage the intermarriage of whites and blacks. 2. That the blacks are encouraged to consider themselves upon an equal footing with the whites in their religious exercises in church....87
The Afrikaner racist discourse was a product of these objections against the discourse of reform, and in a sense it was parasitic upon that discourse. To this day there is one discourse in South Africa with two sides to it, reform and racism.
In contrast to the British, the Afrikaners did not believe that the backwardness of blacks was capable of being remedied. They saw it rather as an immutable fact, which called for differential treatment and legislation. They objected fiercely to what they saw as the consequences in practice of conferring equal liberties to blacks. As a result of Ordinance 50 and failure to control vagrancy, 'roving and wandering have already again become so natural to them, that they prefer their natural condition in the midst of our society above our civilized state and regular intercourse.'88 Equal rights for blacks gave licence to their idleness, frivolity, licentiousness, vice, sloth and crime. Van der Walt was speaking for most Afrikaners when he stated that liberty for blacks meant the end of security for the whites; what was needed was liberty with submission, a novel concept, and the first in line of many Afrikaner adaptations to the meaning of rights as they were understood in Europe. Equality, in the Afrikaner view, would bring about the destruction of their social order. Blacks must be made to have a 'proper sense' of their subordinate position. The colony needed labour; getting labour meant having repressive laws. Blacks 'are by nature untrustworthy, slothful and drowsy', and since they would not work voluntarily, they had to be compelled to do so. In a pattern of response familiar to paternalists,89 the Afrikaners reacted fiercely against Ordinance 50. Christoffel Brand argued the case for punishing the blacks with the self-evident arguments for disciplining his own children:
Why may we not punish our subordinates when they misbehave?.... Some people accuse us Afrikaners of being vicious oafs. But.. this charge is false. Our children are beaten and punished when they deserve it. Yes, we chastise our own blood, and are the slaves better than that.90
Paternalism presupposed sovereignty.91 The rights over blacks belonged to the Afrikaner, who had won and now was entitled to exercise complete power. It was a doctrine which was as authoritarian as it was absolute. Sovereignty was essential to the structure and functioning of Afrikaner discourse on blacks. But it was mainly negative and prohibitive: the Afrikaner was the master who knows and speaks the truth, who censures and forbids.
Developing their ideas about sovereignty was also a specific response to the economic problems which the Afrikaners faced in the early nineteenth century: the transition from coercive to free forms of labour. It justified the construction of mechanisms for controlling blacks (such as pass laws, vagrancy laws, and immunity in the courts in cases where blacks had been brutally treated). The justifications for absolute power over blacks reinforced white solidarity and black subjection. This was the view of the Afrikaners who rejected 'gelykslelling' and embarked upon the Great Trek. According to Anna Steenkamp, the Trek was a reaction against authorities who had abandoned the proper way of handling relations between whites and blacks and between masters and servants. This had offended the law of God as well as human susceptibilities, all at the behest of 'interested and dishonest persons' acting 'under the cloak of religion'.92
In the case of the British, power was exercised through disciplinary techniques which aimed at the spiritual and cultural transformation of blacks. This process was accompanied by discourses verifying and legitimating African inferiority in order to impose universal norms, in other words western forms of governing and western laws. The Afrikaner approach to their relations to blacks was, by contrast, based on their idea of sovereignty, the assertion of unalterable African inferiority, and, in consequences African exclusion. But for blacks, whether they were under Afrikaner sovereignty or British government, they continued to experience subjection to a white power.
The Afrikaner's view of sovereignty encompassed the totality of his relation to blacks. It entailed specific judgements, evaluations and gestures; it involved a. form of authority to which blacks were expected to submit; it was an agency for the expression, diffusion and implementation of Afrikaner policy towards blacks; and it was governed by the idea, personal, paternalistic and didactic, that the white man must rule. For the British reformer and missionary, being European and living in African society meant taking a way which was self-consciously civilized in language and thought. This in turn made possible the relationship of the superior but sympathetic white to the subjected African, who was fixed in the position of an object to be converted and improved. In this phase of colonization, racist discourse developed in the context of a conflictual exchange: on the one hand, the British with their avowed aim of establishing 'equal protection and equal justice', and on the other hand, the Afrikaner who rejected 'gelykslelling'.
The Trek - the Afrikaner Mission
The Trek was a bid by those who went north to assert their independence from British rule and to establish their own settlements. The links that the trekkers had with Holland were no longer strong; and Britain was not their country. Yet the trekkers saw themselves as Europeans who had left the safety of Cape Colony to enter 'a wild and dangerous territory'.93 Their grievances were directed against philanthropists and humanitarians and the colonial authorities who appeared to be under their thumb:
We complain of the unjustifiable odium which has been cast upon us by interested and dishonest persons, under the cloak of religion, whose testimony is believed in England, to the exclusion of all evidence in our favour; an we can foresee, as the result of this prejudice, nothing but the total ruin of the country.94
They justified the founding of a new settlement in defensive terms, 'we will not molest any people, nor deprive them of the smallest property'.95 According to the Trekker leader Pretorius, 'we did not go out... with aggressive purposes.'96 Some trekkers saw themselves as the chosen instruments of God ('een middel zyn in Gods hand'), 'for the promotion of Christian civilization among many thousands, who, until now, have been left in deepest darkness.'97 These statements were intended to blunt the edge of criticism by humanitarians and in due course to provide the basis for the justification and legitimation of conquest.98 Yet the interior into which the trekkers moved had large native populations, and colonization involved encroachment, dispossession and outright military conquest of black populations.
In its turn, the Trek gave rise to a mythology of conquest which was justified in terms of its racist configuration. After their victory over the Zulus in 1838, and their traumatic experiences in the war, the trekkers began to justify their right to the land.99 They no longer claimed they had bought or bartered the territory usurped from the indigenous peoples (the usual explanation to colonial authorities): 'we regard ourselves as free citizens who might go where we please without acting to the detriment of any other, as all nations are free and go where they like.'100 Since land had been paid for in blood and sacrifice, the trekkers now claimed it by right. Thus the trekker leader, Pretorius, wrote that 'we have a right to Natal... for which we had to pay the price of suffering indescribable cruelty, and not with the blood of men alone.'101 And later Potgieter declared:
Our country... has been bought with human blood... our united society will come to feel that not only this country, but all the land that has been bought with the blood of our citizens, should be defended and championed, and that not even an inch of land should be lost, but, in justice, more should be sought after, in the interest of our society....102
These metaphors introduce the 'thematics of blood' by extending a unique mythological notion by which blood gave rights to the land. It was elevated into a quasi-religious notion in which the struggle of Afrikaners against blacks was seen as a just war 'ratified' by the sacrifice of blood, with victory righteously achieved against 'barbaric hordes', blood that had been spilled and 'bleached bones' would remain ‘a visible beacon of right on that land’.103 This metaphor of blood was to remain an important feature in Afrikaner history and its ritual manifestations. With a moral right to land paid for with blood, the trekkers saw themselves bound to their new settlement by a 'sacred tie'. In Afrikaner society, 'blood' emerged as a fundamental value and a recurrent theme. It can be seen in its notion of sovereignty, its systems of alliance, its emphasis on the purity of the white race, its rejection of mixed breeds, and its constant sense of struggle against a hostile environment. Blood was valued in terms of its instrumental and symbolic roles, whether the willingness of the Afrikaner people to shed their blood to protect their society, the solidarity of those of the same blood, or their determination that white blood should not be mixed with black. Afrikaners thus developed a symbolism of blood during the period of the Trek. Blood became for the Afrikaner a 'reality with a symbolic function'.104
When the Afrikaners set up their first republic in Natal, they emphasised two main issues: independence from British rule and a distinctive strategy for governing blacks. In the course of the Trek itself, they had begun to see themselves as a 'free and independent people':
...Immediately after our departure we declared our independence: we established a Government of our own, prosecuted wars that came upon us unexpectedly and made peace, took possession of uninhabited tracts of country which we acquired... with our blood and treasure.105
And once independent, they were determined that their treatment of blacks would 'preserve proper relations between master and servant',106 a relationship of white dominance and black servitude. In the first Transvaal constitution, 'half-castes, down to the tenth degree' were specifically prohibited from becoming a member of the legislature or a judge.107 And the institution of the Republic in 1858 flatly stated that 'the people desire to permit no equality between coloured people and the white inhabitants, either in Church or State.'108 Thus, racial exclusion and inequality was firmly entrenched in the constitution of the new republics.
During this period Afrikaner discourse on blacks was unitary; it was animated by a particular view of sovereignty, in which the will of dominant whites was imposed upon blacks. It represented the subjection of blacks in a brutal and crude form. By their words and their actions Afrikaners showed that they perceived blacks as being permanently alien and unassimilable. Here were the beginnings of a discourse that justified and explained African differences on the basis that blacks are unequal to whites.
Effects of Reform and Racism
The British and Afrikaner discourses which developed in this period have had a powerful impact upon race-relations in South Africa. Philips' interventions paved the way for the concept of assimilation and provided a basis for the liberal discourse on blacks, while the Afrikaner rejection of quality set the foundations for segregationist policies, the rationale for apartheid. It is around the events of this period that South African historiography produced divergent interpretations of the past, reflecting the different discourses. Historical writing has tended to base itself either upon a sympathetic acceptance of the Afrikaner's justification of his relationship to blacks or upon the liberal tradition which regarded that relationship as the oppression of blacks.
The writings of G.M. Theal, notably his monumental eleven-volume History of South Africa, were a significant example of early historical work on South Africa. His detailed account of the 'settler tradition' was written in the context of the two opposing interpretations of the relations between white and black, exemplified on the one hand by Philip'sResearches in South Africa which reflected the oppression of blacks by whites and on the other hand by Moodie'sThe Record, which aimed to prove that Philip's evidence was false.109 By selecting documents from Moodie'sRecords, Theal was sceptical of missionary conceptions of equality among races which he believed to be false, and he took as true the Afrikaner view of differences in the intellectual capabilities of blacks.110 Theal set himself against the missionary tradition and contested the views of Philip. White settlement, according to Theal, had been beneficial for black as well as for white. Europeans as civilized people had a duty to elevate Africans from barbarism and backwardness. In this reinterpretation of the past, whites were presented as non-violent and benevolent, and Theal emphasized instead the violence of black against black (a recurrent theme in Afrikaner history).111 His overall depiction of blacks was negative. According to Saunders,
Theal, the pioneer, the father of South African historiography, did more than anyone else to establish a tradition of strongly pro-colonist, anti-black historical writing, and to create the racist paradigm which lay at the core of that tradition and which served to justify white rule.112
Afrikaner historians have continued to depend heavily on Theal's works; his books have been translated into Dutch, and were used in schools throughout the republics. His abiding influence can be seen in the work of Afrikaner nationalist historians such as F.A. van Jaarsveld and C.F.J. Muller, both of whom still portray blacks negatively in the stereotypes which Theal constructed and project Afrikaner history as a struggle against the 'savage, barbaric hordes'.113
The liberal interpretation in the historiographical tradition began with W.M. Macmillan's,Bantu, Boer and Briton published in 1929, which deployed John Philips' material to challenge Theal's version of South African history. Macmillan was concerned with 'the predicament of the natives', which, 'has never been taken into account'.114 Blacks were not the cruel thieves and despots that Theal portrayed, but the victims of attack who were forced to defend their interests. According to Macmillan, the key issue is South Africa's history was the role of blacks and their relationship with whites, the manner in which blacks had been incorporated into white society, and the relationships that had actually prevailed in marked contrast to those that should exist within a multi-racial society. According to him, the period when Philips intervened was seminal, since it was precisely then that the relations between blacks and whites were for the first time systematically addressed, with the emancipation of slaves, the granting of rights to Khoikhoi, and the beginnings of the efforts to incorporate Africans into colonial society. Since the Trek, South Africa, whatever its divisions, had become essentially one country organised around a single theme, the increasing interaction between white and black and the cooperation and conflicts that this involved.
According to Macmillan, Philips' efforts to improve black life by promoting equality proved that 'the descendants of the nomadic aborigines, a physically inferior stock, originally less well endowed than the Bantu... have come to achieve a measure of civilization deemed sufficient to entitle them to a full share in European privileges.'115 By analysing the effects of Ordinance 50, Macmillan's work hoped to change the direction of government policy away from segregationist policies. In Bantu, Boer and Briton he wrote:
Nowhere is there such danger of political disaster as in a country, constitutionally democratic, which denies political rights to a section of its own people... The Natives ready to qualify for the jealously guarded privilege of the franchise are a mere handful, and their number increases all too slowly. Wisdom demands that White South Africa bind this handful to itself, and secure their co-operation in devising a policy for leading up to civilization the great backward masses who must, for many years, remain incapable of independent political thought and action.... For the Union - in blindness born of fear - to baulk or retard their progress will be to sow dragons' teeth that must soon spring to dreadful life in the not infertile seed-plot of South Africa.116
Macmillan influenced the liberal school of thought in South Africa, exemplified by such authors as C.W. De Kiewiet, whose books are still used by contemporary historians, and are valued for challenging the legacy of Theal's mythology.117
Theal's works provided a racist paradigm for Afrikaner nationalist history and helped to lay the foundations for South African segregationist and apartheid policies. Macmillan's liberal approach argued for assimilation and represented a protest against segregation. In so far as both structured their material around the twin themes of reformism and racism, they were nevertheless both a part of a specific discourse developed within the context of South Africa, producing its own 'regime of truth' - its 'general politics of truth' - in which everything that could be said about blacks was circumscribed by notions of equality/inequality and integration/segregation. Thus reformist and racist discourse was not only ideological and superstructural; it has been the necessary condition for the formation and development of apartheid -in South Africa.
See C.R. Boxer,The Dutch seaborne empire 1600-1800, (London, 1965), pp. 245-7, 267.
See M.F. Katzen, 'White Settlers and the Origin of a New Society, 1652-1778',in The Oxford History of South Africa, M. Wilson and L. Thompson, (eds) (Oxford, 1969) Vol. 1, esp. pp. 183-232.
See L. Guelke, ‘The white settlers, 1652-1780', inThe Shaping of South African Society, pp. 41-74.
See G. Schutte, 'Company and colonists at the Cape', ibid., pp. 183-7.
Ibid., pp. 183-96; Katzen, 'White Settlers', inOxford History of South Africa, I, pp. 228-32.
A. du Toit and H. Giliomee, inAfrikaner Political Thought, Analysis and Documents Volume one: 1780-1850(Cape Town and Johannesburg, 1903), pp. 4-6.
Cited in du Toit and Giliomee,Afrikaner Political Thinking, p. 10. For the significance of the 'Christian'-'Heathen' dichotomy in the formation of Afrikaner racism, see MacCrone,Race Attitudes in South Africa, pp. 1-136. MacCrone argues that the Afrikaner assigned himself the role of the elect (in Calvinist terms), and to the black non-Christian, the role of the damned. For a summary version see, I.D. MacCrone, 'The Frontier Tradition and Race Attitudes',Race Relations Journal, xxviii (1961), pp. 19-30. du Toit challenges MacCrone's argument of Afrikaner self-characterisation in terms of the Calvinist model. See A. du Toit 'No Chosen People: The Myth of the Calvinist Origins of Afrikaner Nationalism and Racial. Ideology',American Historical Review 88:4 (1983).
R. Elphick and R. Shell, 'Intergroup relations: Khoikhoi, settlers, slaves and free blacks, 1652-1795',Shaping of South African Society, p. 126.
Ibid., pp. 126-7.
See R. Percival,An Account of the Cape of Good Hope, (London, 1804), pp. 286-92 and J.C. Armstrong, 'The slaves, 1652-1795', Shaping of South African Society, p. 98.
See H. Giliomee and R. Elphick, 'The structure of European domination at the Cape, 1652-1820', ibid., p. 376; also see Armstrong, 'The slaves, 1652-1795', ibid., p. 98.
Cited in Giliomee and Elphick, 'The structure of European domination at the Cape', Ibid., p. 377.
Khoikhoi and settler began by bartering cattle in exchange for Company tobacco and beads. Gradually the European expansion cost the Khoikhoi their land, their stock and their trading role. They were defeated in battle in the seventeenth century and decimated by smallpox in eighteenth. Ultimately they lost their identity as a distinct cultural group and intermarried with slaves and others to form the Cape Coloured. Most were driven into the service of Europeans as herdsmen, labourers, or later found their way into the mission stations. See T.R. Davenport,South Africa: A Modern History, p. 5 ff, (London, 1977); Elphick,Kraal and Castle; and J.S. Marais,The Cape Coloured People, 1652-'1937, (London, 1939). For a study of the stereotypes of 'coloureds' in Afrikaner literature, see February,Mind your colour, passim.
R. Elphick, 'The Khoisan to c 1770',Shaping of South African Society, p. 35. and H. Giliomee, 'The Eastern Frontier, 1770-1812', ibid., pp. 316-20.
N. Worden,Slavery in Dutch South Africa (Cambridge, 1985), P. 6. On the introduction of slavery to the Cape see Armstrong, 'The slaves'.Shaping of South African Society, pp. 75-84. 'The first settlers accepted slaves in much the same way as they did land and seed... owners saw it as a system of labour maintained and supported by the government which controlled imports of new slaves, established a legislative code of control and guaranteed the rights of property in slaves and the authority of masters over them,' Worden,Slavery in Dutch South Africa, p. 16.
Christianity justified the ownership of pagans and infidels, 'the slave was treated like a beast. Slavery was inseparable from the evil in men; it was God's punishment upon Ham's prurient disobedience. Enslavement was captivity, the loser's lot in a contest of power. Slaves were infidels or heathens. On every count, Negroes qualified.' See Jordan,White over Black, pp. 52-6. On the term 'meid', see Elphick 'Khoisim to c.1770', The Shaping of South African Society p. 32; Sparrman,A Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, Vol. 1, p. 387.
Giliomee, 'The Eastern Frontier',Shaping of South African Society, pp. 316-320.
W. Read,The Martyrdom of Man (London, 1872), pp. 414-15.
Ibid., pp. 355-67.
Foucault, OT, pp. 217-49.
See H. Murray,Enquiries Historical and Moral Respecting the Characters of Nations and the Progress of Society, (Edinburgh, 1808), p. 2.
Hugh Murray's theory was based on four principles: (1) small societies, were unable to achieve progress, but as parts of larger groups they could overcome the vice inherent in small societies. Africa, with large, complex societies, could progress; (2) the principle of communication; 'backward' cultures exposed to 'advanced' cultures would progress; (3) the increase of wealth introduces new needs, hence civilization and refinement follow; (4) 'Great Public Events' such as social upheaval, war or revolution, apparently retrogressive when they took place, could lead to progress with the opportunities they threw up for new and able men. ibid, pp. 21-63.
A. Ferguson,An Essay on the History of Civil Society, Duncan Forbes, (ed.) (Edinburgh, 1966), P. 1.
See F. Furet, 'Civilization and Barbarism in Gibbon's History', in The Workshop of History, (Chicago, 1984), p. 141 ff. Ferguson, An Essay, pp. 108-21; and Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws Books XIV-XVIII.
Ferguson.An Essay, pp. 97-110.
'The Aborigines Committee and the Morality of Empire', in,Imperialism: The Documentary History of Western Civilisation, P.D. Curtin (ed.), (.New York, 1971), P. 286.
For a general survey of the movement and its role in the abolition of slavery see G.R. Mellor,British Imperial Trusteeship 1783-1850, (London, 1951), pp. 31-127.See also K.Knorr, British Colonial Theories, 1570-1850 (Toronto, 1944), 155 ft. For the humanitarian movement and its effects in America, see Jordan,White over Black, pp. 315-422. G.M. Fredrickson inThe Black Image in the White Mind: the debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914,(New York, 1972), pp.1-42, analyses the colonization idea in the context of humanitarian reforms.
See P.D. Curtin,The Image of Africa (Madison, 1964), p. 253.
John Philip played a key role in introducing reforms, improving the conditions of the Khoikhoi and abolishing slavery at the Cape. Macmillan refers to him as the Wilberforce of South Africa inBantu Boer and Briton, pp. 11-16.
John Philip,Researches in South Africa illustrating the Civil, Moral, and Religious Condition of the Native Tribes, 2 Vols, (.London, 1820), 11, p. 316.
W. Wilberforce,A Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Addressed to the Free holders and other Inhabitants of Yorkshire (London, 1867), pp. 73-4. The writer to whom Wilberforce refers is either Adam Ferguson or Adam Smith. Cited in Curtin,Image of Africa, p. 252.
During this period most reformers believed that the conditions of the black could be ameliorated through legislation. In a letter dated 7 April 1810 to Landdrosst A. Stockenstrom, Fiscal Truter argued that civilisation and order would be promoted through the framing of laws. See du Toit and Giliomee,Afrikaner political thought, p. 98.
See F. Furet, 'Civilization and Barbarism in Gibbon's History',The Workshop of History, p. 141 ff. Also Elias Norbert,The Civilising Process: the History of Manners (Oxford, 1978), I, pp. 44 ff.
Philip,Researches, 1, p. x.
On the concept of trusteeship, see MellorBritish Imperial Trusteeship, pp. 11-30.
Edmund Burke 'Speech on Mr. Fox's East India Bill', cited inProblems of Empire: Britain and India, P.J. Marshall (ed.), (London, 1960), p.21.According to Mellor, credit is due to Burke, more than any other individual, for the genesis of the concept of trusteeship. Mellor,British Imperial Trusteeship, p. 22.
Philip,Researches, 1, p. vii.
See E.J. Hobsbawn, 'Methodism and the Threat of Revolution in Britain',History Today, No. 7, 1957, pp. 115-24.
Knorr,British Colonial Theories, p. 376. For Missionary motives and its alliance with the humanitarian movement, see J.E. Orr,The Second Evangelical Awakening in Britain(New York, 1949), and M. WarrenThe Missionary Movement from Britain in Modern History, (London, 1965).
R. Moffat,Missionary Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa, (London, 1842) p. 2.
Foucault's concept of 'pastoral power' most appropriately explains the internalization of power relations.
Edward Said has aptly described Orientalism as a set of discourses invented by the West. 'Orientalism', he writes, 'is a distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic, scholarly, economic, sociological, historical, and philological texts, it is an elaboration not only of a basic geographical distinction... but also of a whole series of "interests", which by such means as scholarly discovery, philological reconstruction... and sociological description... not only create but also maintain it, it is rather than expresses, a certainwill orintention to understand, in some cases to control, manipulate, even to incorporate what is manifestly a different... world." E. Said,Orientalism, (London, 1978), p. 12, also see his chapter on the 'Scope of Orientalism'.
See De Kiewiet,A History of South Africa: Social and Economic, pp- 35,55; Davenport,South Africa, A Modern History, chapter on 'Enlightenment and the Great Trek’. Both writers provide an historical account of the introduction to British rule. For an analysis of the events, see W. Freund, 'The Cape under the transitional governments, 1795-1814 inShaping of South African Society, pp. 211-42.
V.Y. Mudimbe inThe Invention of Africa (Bloomington, 1988) refers to these three features a constituting the colonizing structure. These three features of the colonizing experience, according to Christopher, embody the physical, human and spiritual aspects of colonialism, which is further elaborated in C.J. Christopher,Colonial Africa (New Jersey, 1984), pp. 27-87.
Philip,Researches, 1, p. 383.
Dr Philip, summarizing his impressions of his tour in 1830, quoted in Macmillan,Bantu, Boer and Briton, p. 99.
Ibid., pp. 95.
Ibid., pp. 95-6.
Ibid., p. 96.
Foucault, DP, p. 219.
See J.S. Marais,The Cape Coloured People, 1652-1937, (Johannesburg, 1939) p"118 andMellor, British Imperial Trusteeship, pp. 231-45.
The 1809 proclamation stated that 'individuals of the Hottentot nations like other inhabitants' now had to have fixed places of abode registered with magistrates and they were prohibited from moving about without passes. See H.A. Whyndham, TheAtlantic and Emancipation, (London, 1937), P. 203.
Ordinance 50, 17 July 1828, quoted in Malherbe,What They Said 1795-1910. p. 33
The Masters and Servants Ordinance of 1842 repealed Ordinance 50 and treated both white and black as one.
‘And it be further enacted. That in case any Person within this Colony, and any Hottentot or other free Person of colour, as aforesaid, shall be mutually desirous of entering into a written Contract for a longer period than one month, that then and in such case the Parties shall appear together before the Superintendent of Police... to countersign Contracts of service....’. Ordinance 50, 17 July 1828 in Malherbe,What They Said, p. 34.
'The Aborigines Committee' in Curtin,Imperialism, p. 288.
In the past. White colonists had shown scant regard for the 'humanity' or interests of the indigenous populations. As the Aborigines Committee reported, 'too often, their territory has been usurped; their property seized; their numbers diminished; their characters debased; the spread of civilization impeded'. From the end of the eighteenth century, however, blacks were no longer regarded as being incapable of attaining the state of civilization. See Z. Bauman, 'On the Origins of Civilization: a Historical Note', inTheory, Culture and Society, Vol. 2, No. 3, (1985).
M. Foucault, 'Omnes et Singulatum': Towards a Critique of 'Political Reason',The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Vol. 2, -M. McMurrin (ed.), (Cambridge, 1901), p. 225.
R. Moffat,Missionary Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa, (London, 1842), p. ii. Moffat arrived at the Cape in 1817 and wrote at the time of early missionary activities. According to Schapera, his writings are valuable both to historians and anthropologists, particularly his description of the initial phases of the Tswana tribes' contact with Europeans.
Moffat, Missionary Labours, pp. ii-iii.
S. Broadbent,A Narrative of the First Introduction of Christianity Amongst the Baralong Tribe of the Bechuanas South Africa, (London, 1865) p. 176.
The specific methods of instruction and the attempts to inculcate Christian principles are briefly touched upon in the next chapter.
Moffat,Missionary Labours, pp. 30-1. In fact this picture was a somewhat idealised version of the facts. Once a cavalry officer who enjoyed the dancing halls. Van der Kemp gave, according to Whyndham, the first indications of the humanitarianism which he afterwards carried to such lengths, by marrying below his rank and adopting the life of a common mechanic. Forced to leave the army, it was the simultaneous loss of his wife and an illegitimate child by another woman in a boating accident which is held to have opened the way to his conversion. Whyndham, The Atlantic andEmancipation, p. 202.
See Foucault 'Omnes et Singulatum',The Tanner Lectures, II.
Christopher,Colonial Africa, pp. 84-5.
See the diagrams of the plans of the streets and the village layout, ibid., pp. 84-5.
For Missionary enterprise in the transformation of African life see M. Wilson 'Church and School',The Oxford History of South Africa, Vol. 2. pp. 72-84. B.M. Magubane,The Political Economics of Race and Class in South Africa, (New York, 1979), pp. 55-70.
Weber,The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, p. 116.
R.H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (London, 1926), p. 234.
See Foucault, 'Omnes et Singulatum',The Tanner Lectures, II.
D.P. Kunene, ' Deculturation - The African Writer's Response',Africa Today, 15, No. 4 (Aug-Sept, 1968).
J.S. Stavorinus,Reizen van Zeeland over de Kaap de Goede Hoop 1768 to 1771, (Leyden, 1793), P. 309, cited in Adam and Giliomee,Ethnic Power Mobilized: on South African Change, (New Haven and London, 1979), p. 96.
This can be seen in some of the earliest writings of the Cape Patriots. In 1778 two pamphlets were distributed anonymously at the Cape. The one entitled 'The Power and Liberties of a Civil Society', was a transcription of a 1754 Dutch pamphlet which looked at relations between subjects and governments in the natural rights tradition. See the Burgher Petition of 1779, in du Toit and Giliomee,Afrikaner Political Thought, I, pp. 253-55, and C. Beyers,Die Kaapse Patriotic (Pretoria, 1997), pp. 310-12.
Davenport,South Africa: A Modern History, p. 27.
'Every man should contribute... in particular to the welfare of the citizenry of which he is a member.’ 1778 pamphlet (Cape Town) quoted in du Toit and Giliomee,Afrikaner Political Thought, I, p. 252.
Ibid., p. 43. Significantly a nascent Afrikaner identity was beginning to be expressed in the language and mythology of blood.
In theirAfrikaner Political Thought, du Toit and Giliomee have rescued a range of documents from relative obscurity, and have succeeded in taking the study of Afrikaner thinking beyond the stereotypes, derived from a very restricted range of sources, which had previously dominated the subject.
Van der Riet to Truter, 1 April 1810, in du Toit and Giliomee,Afrikaner Political Thought, I, p. 53.
Anna Steenkamp in 1843 explained that the reasons for the Great Trek (the Afrikaner exodus into the interior) was that blacks had been 'placed on an equal footing with Christians, contrary to the laws of God and the natural distinction of race and religion, so that it was intolerable for any decent Christian to bow down beneath such a yoke.'. Quoted in J. Bird (ed.)The Annals of Natal: 1495 to 1845 (Pietermaritzburg, 1888), Vol. I, p. 459.
One colonist, asking for draconian measures to suppress vagrancy, rejected the criticism 'that this law would be an infringement of liberty... of a liberty to commit murder, robbery, incest and other frightful crimes with impunity. Now liberty can only be esteemed a blessing inasmuch as it promotes the general welfare of mankind; to be this blessing it must be controlled by reason.... I am indeed a strong advocate for rational liberty, I would risk my life to preserve it; but this liberty can only exist when impartial justice is done to all, when the interest of the Farmer as well as the Hottentot is consulted.', Letter from 'An inhabitant of the Hantam', 29 July, 1834, published inZuid-Afrikaan, 15 August 1834, in du Toil and Giliomee,Afrikaner Political Thought, I, p. 110.
Letter from P.J. Swanepoel, Kouka, to Mr. Mijntes, the resident magistrate of Beaufort West, 19 November 1938, ibid., p. 11.
'[We have] learnt from experience that these people have not yet by any means arrived at such a state of self-esteem as to make beneficial use of these wholesome provisions [of Ordinance 50]. The memorialists have learnt from experience that some of them, on the sudden change in their condition, have not reformed, but have given themselves up to the most dangerous excesses. As they have given themselves over to licentiousness, frivolity and idleness, they are obliged to support themselves by plunder to the great loss of the memorialists.', Memorial of P. Aucamp and forty-six inhabitants of the field-cornetcy of Rhenosterberg to Sir Lowry Cole, February, 1829, ibid., p. 106.
Reply of the Colesberg memorialists to Lieutenant-Governor Stockenstrom, July 1837, ibid., p. 116.
Letter from N.T. van der Walt to Stockenstrom, 31 August 1837, ibid., p. 117.
Letter from J.N. Boshoff, 17 February 1839, ibid., pp. 120-21.
Editorial 'The Hottentot Magna Charta' of theDe Zuid-Africaan on Ordinance 50, 23 March 1832, ibid., pp. 107-8.
On Paternalism, see P. Van den Berge,Race and Racism (New York, 1967). Genovese explains that slave society in the American South was based on a system where men were compelled to become the involuntary instruments of other men's will, which was legitimized by the paternalistic conception of an organic relation involving mutual duties and responsibilities. 'Paternalism defined the involuntary labour of the slaves as a legitimate return to their masters for protection and direction. ... It grew out of the necessity to discipline and morally justify a system of exploitation.... For the masters, paternalism meant reciprocal duties within which the master had a duty to provide for his people... and the slaves had a duty to work properly and to do as they were told. Necessarily the slaves also had, from the white point of view, incurred an obligation to be grateful.' E.D. Genovese, Roll Jordon Roll; The World the Slaves Made (New York, 1972), pp. 4-5,144.
Speech by Brand at a protest meeting of slaveholders, 17 September 1832 in du Toit and Giliomee,Afrikaner political thought, I, pp 108-9.
Foucault's concept of sovereignty involves the idea of a monarch, or sovereign, who possesses and exercises complete power - a power which is authoritarian and absolute. See Foucault,Power/ Knowledge, pp. 94-5. Foucault refers to Hobbes'Leviathan as follows: 'Think of the scheme of Leviathan: insofar as he is a fabricated man, Leviathan is no other than an amalgamation of a certain number of separate individualities who find themselves reunited by the complex of elements that go to compose the State: but at the heart of the State, or rather at its head, there exists something which constitutes it as such, and this is sovereignty, which Hobbes says is precisely the spirit of Leviathan.' ibid., pp. 97-8.
Davenport,South Africa: A Modern History, p. 40.
Manifesto P. Retief, 2 February 1837, in du Toit and Giliomee,Afrikaner political thought, I, p. 214.
A.W.J. Pretorius to Governor D'Urban, 24 February 1939, ibid., p. 217.
Letter from the Volksraad of Natal to Governor Napier, 14 January 1841, ibid., pp. 218-20.
Significantly the conquest and dispossession of the Khoikhoi did not elicit a body of moral or political justification. But once the missionary and philanthropists challenged the conquest and raised the question of black rights, the trekkers responded with justifications of their own.
In Afrikaner historiography, the 'Battle of Blood River’ in Natal has been reconstructed in mythical terms as a demonstration of God's support for the Afrikaner.
A.H. Potgieter to Governor D'Urban, 3 December 1838, du Toit and Giliomee, Afrikaner political thought, I, pp. 215-16.
A.W.J. Pretorius to Governor D'Urban, 24 February 1839, ibid., pp. 216-17.
A.H. Potgieter to A.W.J. Pretorius, 28 August 1841, ibid., p. 217.
Declaration and Protest of the Volksraad of Natal, 11 November 1839, ibid., pp. 217-18.
On the symbolics of blood, see Foucault, HS, Vol. 1, pp. 147-8.
Letter from the Volksraad of Natal to Governor Napier, February 1842, du Toit and Giliomee,Afrikaner political thought, I, p. 220.
Retief's Manifesto, 2 February 1837, ibid., p. 212.
G.W. Eybers (ed.).Select Constitutional Documents Illustrating South African History"1795-1910 (.London, 1910), P. 350.
Ibid., p. 364.
On Theal's life and influence see Saunders,The Making of the South African Past, pp. 9-44. According to Merle Babrow, Theal's continuing importance is illustrated by 'the fact that not only are school textbooks largely based on him, but that there are still historians who rely on and consult him.... He is not only listed on their bibliographies, but cited as source and authority in their footnotes. Moreover, even historians who reject Theal's interpretation of Facts, usually continue to work largely within the framework erected by him. ' , cited in Smith,The Changing Past, pp. 31-2. See D. Moodie,The Record, or a Series of Official Papers Relative to the Condition and Treatment of the Native Tribes of South Africa, 3 Vols (Cape Town, 1838-1842).
The colonists persuaded the governor at the Cape to appoint Moodie to dig out evidence against Philips' account of black-white relations. Moodie demonstrated that Khoikhoi-white relations were not so bad as presented by Philip, and that colonists were not without benevolence towards blacks. See Saunders,The Making of the South African Past, pp. 19-20.
G.M.Theal History of the Boers in South Africa (2nd ed. London 1888), p. 357, andHistory of South Africa from 1828 to 1846, (London, 1904), p. 143, ff.
Saunders,The Making of the South African Past, p. 29.
K. Smith,The Changing Past, p. 36. See in particular F.A. van Jaarsveld,From Van Riebeeck to Vorster, 1652-1974 (Pretoria, 1975), passim. C.F.J. Muller (ed.),Five Hundred Years. A History of South Africa, (Pretoria, 1969), is a prescribed textbook for students at Afrikaner universities. In it Hottentots and Bantus are blamed as much as the whites for the extermination of the Bushmen; blacks are described as migrants to South Africa; the trekkers entered 'unpopulated territory', Africans are relegated to an appendix, and pre-conquest African societies are dismissed as unworthy of study.
W.M. Macmillan,My South African Years, (Cape Town, 1975). P. 36.
Saunders,The Making of the South African Past, p. 67, quoting W.M. Macmillan, The Cape Colour Question, (London, 1937), P. viii.
W.M. Macmillan,Bantu, Boer, and Briton: The Making of the South African Native Problems (Revised and enlarged edition, Oxford, 1963), Preface, pp. x-xi.
On de Kiewiet's long, and influential career as an historian, see Saunders, The Making of the South African Past, pp. 76-101; and C. Saunders,C.W. de Kiewiet. Historian of South Africa (Cape Town, 1986); also see de Kiewiet,A History of South Africa, social and economic.
Chapter 5: The Management of Blacks ↵
The desire for land and labour, the need for security, and an impulse to master explain the attitudes and conduct of the Boers who migrated into the interior; their views, conditioned by experience in the Cape, that blacks were savage and heathen, were hardened by the African resistance they now encountered. As yet these views had not been elevated into theory or written up but the proceedings of the Natal Commission of 1852 give an insight into the Boers' perception of blacks.1 More than half the witnesses before the Commission were Boers, who referred to Africans as lazy and stupid Kafirs, inveterate liars, incapable of gratitude and ignorant of their own true interests. If blacks were to be improved, they would have to be put to work for the whites. As one witness told the Commission:
The Kafirs are lazy by nature and accustomed to do their work under the influence of fear.... I consider it with respect to their civilisation, as well as to their own improvement, as an act of justice to the white inhabitants that they should be compelled to go into the service of the Boers.2
Assessing black life as unproductive and characterized by idleness had remained a consistent theme in the Boer discourse on blacks since the seventeenth century. Idleness was regarded as a root cause of all the problems of black society: hence the idea of providing a pedagogy of work. Since blacks by 'nature' resisted labour, they must be compelled to work,3 if necessary by instilling a sense of fear into them. As one witness told the Natal Commission: 'There are no other means to rule the kafirs but by fear; and kafirs will not work for the white men unless they know that they will be punished when they refuse.'4 The Boers had no patience for the more refined techniques that the English were to deploy in subjugating blacks. Sheer physical force was their answer. As another witness remarked,
I would make a law for the kafirs that every man having a kafir should be allowed to flog him when he misbehaved... when this law was in force in the old colony the farmers had plenty of hands, and then the Hottentots were comparatively rich.5
'Fear' was to be the guiding functional element to achieve a docile black population. Fear would also remind blacks of the awesome force of the Afrikaner himself, necessary in view of the dangers that the migrating Boers faced in the highveld: the constant threat from hostile black societies as well as the ravages of disease and hunger. The imperatives of survival and of security were born of this state of permanent aggression and violence in which the Boers lived. When the Boers raided African communities, James Chapman describes how they
were accustomed to organise commandos and the cattle were swept off, villages burnt, the inhabitants murdered, and what was perhaps the worst feature of the case, the women and children, and often the men, were dragged away to become forced labourers, in fact, slaves on the Dutchman's farms.6
Violence and brutality were the hallmarks of Boer raiding expeditions by which black labour was acquired, as this graphic account given to Robert Moffat by an elderly black shows:
a party of armed Boers came and demanded of the chief.. . the children of the people. The mothers ran to hide their children; the Boers began to seize them and to put them into their wagons; the men interfered; the Boers fired, and in the result most of the men were killed defending their families, and the wagons were loaded with children and driven off as booty.7
The Afrikaner's need for labour overruled any concern for the well-being of the black. In this period the dehumanization of blacks was accompanied by the crude exploitation of their bodies. As Fanon puts it, the initial phase of colonialism 'corresponds to the crude exploitation of men's arms and legs' .8
The relationship between Boer and black, constituted through the experience of war and the struggle for land, was accepted as unavoidably brutal. As theZuid-Afrikaan stated in June 1856, dealing leniently with blacks was not possible since 'leniency which savages never fail to ascribe to a sense of weakness, has engendered contempt'.9 As the struggle was not between two 'civilized' nations, but rather between a civilised and a savage peoples, 'the savage must learn to fear the punishment which will follow upon an act of aggression committed by him.'10 It was a war of a special type, where defeating the enemy in battle was not enough. Any breach of the peace thereafter had vigorously to be stamped upon; disobedience had to be treated as an act of hostility, and given no quarter. At stake was the power and sovereignty of the Afrikaner. Blacks had to be made to see that the Afrikaners would brook no opposition. As Retief warned the Griqua chiefs, 'no nation or tribe, of whatever class or colour' would be permitted, unpunished, to defy his power.11
The Afrikaners' assertion of power should also be seen in the context of the organisation of their own societies. Leadership among the Afrikaners was based on a patriarchal family structure, in which leaders of the trekker parties had absolute authority. The main role of the Trek leader, sometimes referred to as 'frontier commandant', was that of military organizer. Afrikaner society thus took on an autocratic form in which the senior patriarch was invested with sovereign political authority. His power was asserted militarily, was inextricably connected with the conduct of war, and the rules and obligations it imposed were regarded as personal bonds. According to Retief, Afrikaners, on pain of death or expulsion, had to sever all allegiance to outside institutions, and take an oath actively to obey and honour the elected leader.12 In this way Afrikaners achieved a degree of political cohesion and solidarity; more importantly, they created a model of authority, reinforced by ritual display, which was to influence their view of 'sovereign power'.
When elected 'Governor' of the trekkers, Retief claimed that he had been chosen by God.13 Sovereign authority was conferred by God upon the leaders to 'direct' and 'protect' the community. In the trekker view of sovereignty, the leader was God's instrument and the followers had to respect a social order in conformity with God's laws. Sovereignty was established in order to achieve submission to sovereignty itself. Within this circular argument, the purpose of sovereignty was its exercise. The good was obedience to the leader; and the people had a duty to obey him. These ideas were elevated into a political ritual; any offence against the rules was an offence against the ruler, whose rights included the exercise of absolute sovereignty over blacks, including the right to declare war upon them. Thus Afrikaner power-relations, in their religious and moral justifications and practical workings, aimed at affording the leader's sovereignty.
During the thirty years between 1840 and 1870, a new group of blacks, known to the Boers as 'Inboekselings', or servants of white households, became a familiar feature of the South African interior. 'Inboekselings' were:
children and to a much lesser extent young women formally apprenticed -ingeboek - to Boer settlers and they were acquired by these households either as a result of being taken captive by Boer commandos, or they were handed over by African societies as tokens of political and diplomatic assurance, or they were sold by settlers or by some African societies. They were also an unknown number of clients-cum-servants who had remained with the Boers when they migrated from the Cape in the eighteen-thirties and eighteen-forties.14
The Boers' relationship with their servants was both personal and direct. As early as 1841, the trekker leader Pretorius had called together his followers to settle their ways of dealing with black servants; in many respects, the relationship they established was similar to that of slavery.
The Boer's relation to his servants depended upon a system of physical punishment. In the Thirty-three Articles drawn up by the Boer leader Potgieter, each master was allowed to 'exercise a reasonable discipline over his servants.'15 The broad interpretation placed by Boers on the limits of 'reasonable discipline' can be seen in an 1853 law against the ill-treatment of blacks. It laid down that masters could not longer put their servants into irons.16 This suggests that black servants as a matter of course were treated brutally. But it also reveals that Afrikaners subjugated and dominated blacks in terms of what was most accessible, their bodies. The instruments were forced labour, penitentiary measures, and corporal punishment.
Captured women and children were bound by a system of apprenticeship, another typical feature of the Afrikaner relationship with their black servants. Boys were indentured to a master until the age of 25 and the girls until they reached the age of 21. Chapman observed that the Boers
purchased many children, who with those captured in their wars with the tribes, remain in a condition of slavery until released by death.... But not only are children thus acquired: men and women, of any age, taken by illegitimate means, are sold or exchanged for cattle or goods.17
This signified a proprietorial relationship: Afrikaners owned black servants. In the same way as territory acquired through conquest and settlement belonged to the Boer by right, so also the bodies of the blacks. He could rightfully dispose of them as he wished.
The Boers secured the black labour they needed through various coercive measures. The apprenticeship system helped to ensure that the requirements of the Boer household for labour were met, and these apprentices, often trained to be skilled workers, came to be essential to the Boer communities. Captured and trained from an early age, child apprentices were alienated from their own societies and were absorbed in the 'inferior' or 'lower' black culture which Boer society had created. The Boers ensured the servile position of their servants by denying them full participation within their society. Servants thus experienced simultaneously the twin processes of incorporation and of exclusion in their transition from being captive blacks to becoming servile members of the Boer community. After their capture by Boers the
children soon realised that each had a Boer as a master and these gave them new names. Mozane who was then eight years old was from thenceforth called Valentyn. His brother Nzunza was called Kibit and his sister Lutika was called Kaatje. Valentyn and Kaatje belonged to a Boer called Gerrit Schoeman. Eventually they became used to their new masters and their new life and were no longer as distressed as they had been when they were seized. Valentyn was given over to play with and attend to the young Hermanns Steyn whose father had been murdered by Dingaan. The young white Hermanns and the young black Valentyn soon got to know one another and were always together.... The one learned from the other, bad as well as good.18
This was not untypical of the kind of relationship which developed between some 'inboekselings' and the Boers whom they served.
Boer masters did not usually set free their apprenticed servants, and there was no regular mechanism which ensured their freedom upon maturity. Also most servants had no way of proving when their apprenticeship had actually begun,19 and it was generally accepted that freed apprentices had no right to leave the local community in which they had been raised.20 The apprenticeship system resembled slavery in many ways. It was a form of master-servant relation which was firmly entrenched in Boer attitudes to blacks; it remains at the heart of Afrikaner racism to this day, and its residuals can still be found in contemporary practices.
The essential feature in the Afrikaner relationship to blacks was the subordination of the blacks. Since the Afrikaner had acquired his territory by conquest, he was its rightful owner: Thus 'we have in our opinion acquired the land by right and in accordance with the tenets of God's word', and consequently 'we ask, which country is in more rightful possession of the descendants of Europeans than our country.'21 The links that bound the Afrikaner to his territory were forged by violent conquests, by 'treaties' with African chiefs, or by the assertion of Boer independence from British rule.22 Characteristically pragmatic in their reactions, Afrikaners saw survival and security to be their priorities. The exercise of power had as its prime objective the protection of their territory, and this helps to explain their relationship with the blacks.
Control over territory and its inhabitants was a fundamental element in the Afrikaner view of sovereignty. The local people (including black servants) were constituent elements of the territory and had to be governed, in much the same way as a household in which everything belonged to the Patriarch whose duty was to rule and to protect his family and its property. Since the land and its people were deemed to belong to the Afrikaner, he assumed that he had absolute power over them. This was the context in which blacks came to be regarded by Afrikaners as mere possessions. By contrast, the British regarded governing blacks as a matter of understanding the people, their forms of alliances, their relations to each other, their resources, means of subsistence, customs, habits and ways of thinking, and of deploying that understanding to achieve the ends of government.
The British Approach
In contrast to the Boers, the British approach to the management of blacks was characterised by procedures that gave rights and imposed obligations. These were inscribed in civil law and moral codes, grounded in the universal laws of reason. When Sir Harry Smith brought Xhosa chiefs under British sway, he laid down a set of rules:
Chapter 6: The Blacks; Political Anatomy and Bio-Power ↵
In the later nineteenth century, political and economic developments in South Africa drastically transformed the lives of its population, both black and white: the discovery of diamonds, the annexation of the diamond fields by the British; the attempts to confederate South Africa; the destruction of African societies which were still independent; the striking of gold on the Rand; the extension of British supremacy into the interior; the political struggles of Afrikaner and British; the Anglo-Boer war and the unification of South Africa.
This dissertation has throughout sought to enquire how a 'generalised' view of blacks was formulated. From establishing African 'otherness', to the 'civilising mission', to the management of blacks, each intervention carried forward the typology of advanced and backward societies, cultures and races. Blacks were designated as savage, barbaric, uncivilized, degenerate and backward, categories which marked their separateness; they tended also to be associated with alienated elements in western society such as delinquents, criminals, the poor or the insane, all pejorative designations.
Concern about blacks came now to be not merely explanatory; their passions, instincts, drives, desires, maladjustments and infirmities as well as the effects of environment, and heredity upon them were now assessed and judged. This represented a change. The corpus of knowledge about the black, his relations with the past and the expectations for the future,1 all came under examination. It was recognised that blacks could no longer be isolated from European progress in the sciences, arts, industry and commerce. In the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the problem of how to organise and manage blacks commanded a growing interest in South Africa's 'native policy'. This was the background to the emergence of modern racial practices in South Africa, and is the focus of this chapter.
The Native Question
In 1883, A.F. Caldecott asserted that the 'Native Question' - 'the most difficult and intricate problem in South Africa |being| the position which the European Governments and the Native Races of South Africa, hold to each other' - was ‘the most momentous question a nation has ever had to solve....’2 He also saw it as a political question: how 'to reduce to a practical shape the position we - the European races - should occupy politically and otherwise towards the natives by whom we are surrounded.'3 Blacks were no longer perceived in isolation, but as a threat to the white social order. As Hertslet put it, the nub of the 'Native Problem' was how to preserve white racial purity and the virtues of a white society surrounded as it was by a sea of native 'ignorance, laziness, sensualism and superstition':
given two races living in close relationship, the one, European and civilised, the other negro and savage, how best may racial purity be preserved, righteous government maintained, and the proper development of morals, religion, industry, education, commerce and agriculture be ensured?4
Implicit in the formulation of the problem was a negative perception of black society defined and typified as irredeemably ‘primitive’, and the self-evident ‘truth’ that European society was superior and progressive. Every aspect of the behaviour of the ‘native’ was validated and interpreted in terms of some pre-existing ‘native’ essence, or some universal ‘native’ element.
Central to the native problem was the emergence of a new discourse, the articulation of the concern with preserving white racial purity.5 This in its turn required whites to share an ensemble of discourses on African societies: it involved the white as speaker and the black as spoken of. The problem centred on the future of the relationship between the two races. In 1907, Shepstone after a lifetime of experience, put the question bluntly:
where are two races to be found more dissimilar and more divergent, even in colour, than the enlightened white, and the savage or black races of Africa? And is it possible that amalgamation can be desired or wished for in the near future to the extent of equality and inter-marriage?6
The 'Native Question' was thus addressed specifically to the question how the black populations were to be to governed, managed and administered in order to maintain white supremacy. The issues involved in the 'Native Question' were summed up by Lewis Hertslet in subsidiary questions, many of which warrant being reproduced below:
1. What is to be the eventual relationship of white and black, socially, politically and industrially?..2. How may the evil influences of civilisation be counteracted and the evil results (blade peril etc.) be checked? 3. What is to be done with the rapidly increasing native population that will soon overfill the present reserves and locations?... 4. What methods can be adopted to improve the natives’ way of living (moral, social and industrial)? 5. How may the vested interests of the mine-owners, farmers and others be synchronised with the best interest of the natives? 6. Are the present powers of the chiefs to be increased or diminished? Or, in other words, is the present clan system to be conserved, altered, or gradually broken up? 7. By what methods can the supply of labour for the towns, sugar estates, farms, railways, roads, and Government departments be kept in a satisfactory ratio to the demand? 8. What kind and what degree of education should be given to the native? Should it remain in the hands of the missionaries, with Government supervision? 9. Ought polygamy and 'lobola' (payment of cattle for wives) to be abolished? 10. How far is segregation advisable, and if advisable, is it possible? 11. To what extent should natives be allowed to buy or rent land? 12. Should the Government definitely assist in teaching the natives industries that at present are more or less limited to white men? 13. What is to be the social and political status of the half-caste?... 14. Is the native always to be denied political representation? 15. How may the natural abilities of the native be utilised for his benefit, and for that of the State? How may the many disabilities under which he labours be successfully removed?...16. What steps can be taken to stop the creation of half-castes?17. How may the rightful desires and ambitions of the large 'kolwa' |converts| population be properly guided and utilised for the benefit of the State? 18. What legitimate stimuli may be applied to the kraal native to make him work?... 19. How should new laws be satisfactorily promulgated among the people?... 20. How may the influence and power of the missionary bodies be best utilised in the solution of the whole problem? 21. Is the native to have a vote. If not, how are his political aspirations to be satisfied?7
These questions show, first, how the 'Native Question' was a response to the breakdown of traditional relations between black and white. Contact between the races was no longer deemed capable of being regulated by frontier zones. Industrial development was bringing black and white populations into direct contact at every level. This called for new systems to regulate that contact, and to protect whites from the 'evil' effects of integration.
Secondly, these questions, though specifically addressed to the South African context, reflect the dominant concerns of the late nineteenth century about 'alien' societies: how they were to be governed and how the history and culture of 'lower races' were to be studied. Whether in ivory towers or in the bargain basements of theorising, theses about mankind, biology, language, race and history, came increasingly to be influenced by science; and Europe in the nineteenth century learnt about the African more scientifically and colonized Africa with greater authority than ever before.8 Economists, educationalists and administrators began with the assumption that whites were inherently superior. In the opinion of an eminent anthropologist, Alfred Court Haddon, South Africa proved
that the most efficient people must ultimately prevail.... The history of South Africa affords us a striking example of this process in the mutual relations of Bushmen, Hottentot, Bantu, Boer and Briton.9
Since Africans were a subject race, they had to be subjected. Theorists of empire, such as Charles Temple who argued that 'nature having endowed mankind unequally, the weaker had to be controlled by the stronger' and on this depended 'not only the maintenance of the positions we now occupy, but our very existence as a distinct race', reflected the influence of Social Darwinism.10 This was just one example of how the analysis of anthropologists, informed by biological determinism, interacted with imperial theory to constitute and to keep the African as inferior. In the later nineteenth-century, theories about other races were less concerned with understanding them, but with the control and manipulation of what was manifestly different. These ideas were not simply academic. By inspiring various projects of African social rehabilitation and influencing 'native policy', they had a practical impact upon South Africa.11 A web of so-called 'objective end consensual' distinctions were established at every level to separate from black. It was assumed that blacks, their minds, culture, blood, Intelligence, potentials and even bodies, were different from those of Europeans: and this assumption was held to possess the quality of ontological and empirical truth, a valid demonstration of the need to reorganise African life.
Thirdly, a procedure for judging blacks came gradually to be established, founded on the truth of their inferiority/savagery. By determining their nature, culture and society as savage, uncivilized, unequal and inferior, blacks could be rejected and excluded. But now a quite different question came to be posed: not only 'is the black transformable?' but also, 'how can the black be transformed and into what?'. It was no longer 'why are blacks different from whites?', but 'how can the process that produced these differences be precisely located?'. Where did it originate? Was it instinct, heredity or environment? It was no longer simply the question 'what kind of treatment is required?' but 'what would be the most appropriate means to take? What would be the most effective way to rehabilitate the black and effect his entry into industrial society?' An entire programme of assessing, diagnosing, prescribing, and judging blacks came to be lodged within the framework of the problem of how they were to be dealt with. The result was a mass of legislative enactments, the starting point for the revaluation that the state and its legislation was to precipitate in the twentieth century.
Fourthly, these questions and the answers they elicited were closely identified with the development of capitalism in South Africa. They related to the problem of persuading Africans to work which in its turn required compulsion, or, in Foucault’s terms, a system of sequestration. It involved the appropriation of black bodies, forcing them to adapt to the needs of industrialisation in South Africa. This called for an apparatus to achieve the sequestration of African life, and the constitution of labour power. Its aim was to discipline and compel. Africans and to force them out of their bad customs and habits. The compound system, the Pass system, the division between mental and manual labour (which created an hierarchical division between white and black workers), and pushing blacks into domestic work were all aspects of a power-apparatus to encourage blacks to acquire the habits of discipline and industry. The 'Native Question' became in part the question of how an apparatus of black sequestration, the fixing of blacks to the system of production, the creation of habits by means of compulsion, teaching and correction, was to be formed.
Fifthly, these questions pointed to the limits of morality and established new prohibitions against the entry of blacks into the white social order. Since blacks outnumbered whites,12 a system was needed to dominate and restructure them. By investing the body, the family, and the kinship of the black man with a multiplicity of prohibitions, he would be taught his 'proper place' in relation to the white:
He must be kept under complete control, and made to conform in every respect to all laws, rules, and regulations in force. He must also be taught to show proper respect to his superiors, and to our women especially.13
Accordingly, the Native Question, and the policies to which it gave rise from the 1890s to the 1930s, must be approached from the point of view of their discursive conditions. The Question will be viewed from the standpoint of how the managing and governing of blacks was formulated and how racist discourses such as segregation were constituted and transformed in this period.
In the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries most discourse assumed that a 'Native Policy' was needed: this was evident from the reports of government commissions, missionary societies, the Mine Managers Association and other organs of local opinion, as well as from writings of ‘experts' such as Brookes, Loram and Evans. The debate about 'Native Policy' culminated in the South African Native Affairs Commission 1903-5 (SANAC), appointed by Milner.14 Its aim was to impose a coherent and unified policy for blacks upon the divergent approaches of the four South African colonies. Its recommendations, most of which gradually were enacted into law,15 had a significant influence on the phases of segregation. The commission, whose membership included missionaries, educationalists and administrators who had long worked amongst blacks, was dominated by English-speaking whites. The commissioners visited black and white areas throughout the country, and took evidence from farmers, colonists, as well as from a wide range of black witnesses. As its preamble explained,
in view of the coming Federation of South African Colonies, it is desirable that a South African Commission be constituted to gather accurate information on certain affairs relating to the Natives and Native administration, and to offer recommendations to the several Governments concerned, with the object of arriving at a common understanding on questions of Native Policy.16
A 'common understanding' would help achieve the close regulation of African life throughout the Federation. Among other matters, the report dealt with the following:
1) The status and condition of the Natives; the lines on which their natural advancement should proceed; their education, industrial training and labour;
2) The tenure of land held by Natives and the obligations to the state which it entails;
3) Native Law and administration;
4) The prohibition of the sale of liquor to Natives;
5) The extent and effects of polygamy.17
The way in which knowledge about blacks was measured and authenticated by those who discussed the 'Native Question' helps to explain the meticulous procedures which were elaborated for the exercise of power over blacks, and which underpinned the strategy to make 'Native Policy' more regular, effective and constant. In effect the SANAC represented a new 'political economy' for governing blacks. The Commission's recommendations were influenced by representatives of many different interests, whether mining, agricultural, missionary, educational or administrative. Their aim was to find a way by which white community divided, by a bitter war, could reconstruct, unify, and modernise a South Africa capable of surviving as a white man's country; and they laid the foundations on which South Africa's modern racial, practice's have been built.
In this period there emerged three distinct unities of knowledge, or discursive unities, which underlay the demand for a coherent 'Native Policy' and for 'improving' blacks. They can be grouped according to their predominant concerns as follows:
1) the administration of blocks, (The State of the African Population);
2) the threat posed to European civilization and values by the extent of contact, interaction and integration between whites and blacks, (The State of Public Morals);
3) the improvement of blacks, as a discursive unity (The Deculturized African).
These formed the fields within which 'Native Policy' was defined, criticised and elaborated. In discussing these three discursive unities, it will be shown that each formed its objects of concern in precisely the same way, and together they created the necessary conditions for a demand for a racially structured 'Native Policy', and crystallised in due course into segregation, which was to become the organising principle of South Africa.
This analysis is not historical but archaeological, in the Foucaudian sense. It is not so much a history of 'Native Policy' as an effort to delineate the archaeological unities and the discursive conditions governing 'Native Policy'. Early native policies sought to ensure public morality, prevent racial degeneration, and secure white domination. By deploying European principles of goodness, virtue, superiority and truth, government's authority would be given a moral foundation and a black population with useful habits would be achieved. From 1910 onwards, native policies came increasingly to be seen as institutional levers to modify the moral typography of the people. Segregation in all its forms, territorial, residential, economic, political, social and sexual, was a technique specifically designed to perpetuate a separate white racial identity. Together with other racist discourses to which segregation contributed, they formed a new regime for the management and control of the black populations.
The State of the African Population
A 'Native Policy' was considered necessary in order to solve the problem of administering the black populations. The various responses to this problem which focussed upon the principles and habits of life of the blacks, had several characteristics in common:
1) Administering the African populations would have to ensure
... the permanent purity of the races, the definite safety of our children, the commercial prosperity of the country, the satisfactory development of the native tribes, and the ultimate security of the State.18
As William Scully, a Resident Magistrate, argued,
... what will be good for the Natives will be good for ourselves, and what will be evil for them, will be equally evil for us.... The task... is this, namely... 1. To improve the moral and social condition of those masses of humanity stagnating in savagery... 2. To provide for the distribution of population from unduly congested centres to localities where labour is required.19
2) Some sought to discover the best way of administering blacks by learning from traditional African societies. Black and white forms of government were seen as distinct, the former despotic and the latter democratic.20 Accordingly, African systems, adapted to the principles and habits of the population, were despotic, but might nonetheless be the most efficient way to control and discipline blacks since they were the only ones they 'understood'. As Shepstone argued in 1907, the traditional, despotic, African system 'prohibits and guards against immorality, |it| exacts obedience and respect, all three essentials to good government and order'.21 By retaining this traditional system the white community could be protected from direct contact with blacks and the potential threat of assimilation, which was a recurring anxiety of the white population. Shepstone concluded: ‘We are foreign to each other and so will it continue, for blood is thicker than water’.22
Missionary activities, the absorption of Africans into industry, and their general contact with whites had produced groups of westernized blacks. Distinctions were drawn between the 'raw' and 'civilised' or 'city' native, who 'has changed from the law-abiding and submissive subject to practically the reverse'.23 Colonists preferred the 'raw native' for his docility and malleability, a recurring theme in South Africa to this day: 'The "raw kaffir" is usually held to be more manageable, reliable, and useful, than one who has been educated up to a certain degree of consciousness of the value of his services.'24 By giving the traditional system its head and allowing it to develop along its own lines, the black labour force would be more effectively managed and more productive. Western influence was perceived as having a demoralizing impact on blacks: 'The native is a natural mimic, and will more readily copy anything evil than anything good.25 The deterioration of morals was particularly pronounced in urban and mining centres and was attributed to the inherent lack of self-restraint amongst blacks. Some witnesses concluded that 'tribalism', a system suited to their habits, was the best, perhaps the only, restraining influence on blacks.
The mining industry had a different angle of vision upon 'Native Policy'.26 Labour in the mines required blacks to be detached from the land, and this called for a fundamental change in African society. Attacking polygamy would 'force the native man to work, and thus habituate him to labour'. It would change 'the basis upon which the present native social system rests...'; it would deprive blacks of 'the cheap labour which now maintains him in idleness'; and it would 'raise the status of women'.27 By transforming the habits and principles of African society, blacks would be forced into the production apparatus. Since blacks were seen as primitive, the breaking up of their traditional communal system was justified as an advance in evolutionary and progressive terms.
3) The third feature of this domain was an analysis of the 'backwardness' of the African population and the means to 'improve' it. According to Scully, Africans, 'like all uncivilized races, are easily influenced'. So the remedy
lies in education.... the application, gradually and consistently, of such civilised principles as will wean the savage from barbarism, destroy the evil influence of tribal tradition, and bring him generally into harmony with his at present unnatural environment.28
The 'tribal system' had to be weakened and blacks compelled to work.29 According to Hertslet, the aim should be to 'provide definite stimuli for industry'.30 The familiar theme about the inherent idleness of Africans, the need to induce them to work continued to be a characteristic of most analyses. Getting blacks to work was to be achieved by precise procedures for the surveillance and policing of social networks through 'panoptic' systems of workshops and factories.
4) Another characteristic argument was that the improvement along these lines would be good for the economy and also good for the blacks. Hertslet described a typical black dwelling as,
dark, dirty, insanitary, and often overcrowded.... The character of the dwelling is the result of ingrained habits of laziness; the style of living caused by such a dwelling eventuates in further laziness.31
As knowledge of black society, its health, conditions of life, housing and habits, began to develop, it gave rise to sociological explanations that eventually came to constitute a series of prescriptions, about the existence and behaviour of blacks: for example, their diet, sexuality, hygiene, and even the layout of their living space.
Once the problem of administering blacks had been equated with a concern for their 'improvement', this fitted in well with the demand by farmers and mine owners for black labour. The effects of this discursive structure were evident in many of the projects and laws to encourage blacks into the labour market, including the proposals of the SANAC Commission and the imposition of a personal hut tax.
The argument here is that it was precisely because the administration of blacks was seen as a problem (whether to retain or abolish the 'tribal' system; how to encourage habits of industry and avoid the demoralising effects of interracial contact) that a discourse of the State of the African Population was constituted. As the SANAC commission advised, that discourse would have to take account of 'the process of evolution and the effect of changes upon people passing from semi-savage life to enlightenment.'32 Significantly, the concern for the state of the African population was expressed in a vocabulary which depicts both 'traditional' and 'Westernised' blacks as childlike, immoral, idle, depraved, backward, while the white is described as rational, virtuous, and mature. Across a spectrum of opinion which ranged from those who saw advantages in the 'traditional' systems to those who desired its obliteration, everyone shared certain common ideas about blacks. These ideas, or assumptions, were used to explain the behaviour of Africans and imposed upon them a particular construct of character and history. They also strengthened the sense of superiority among whites. A vision of reality was structured around the difference between the familiar (white, us) and the aberrant (blacks, them).
The State of Public Morals
A 'Native Policy' was considered necessary to tackle the problems caused by the deterioration in the moral character of the blacks, and the threat this posed to the entire white population. It is through a discourse on theState of Public Morals that this relation was constituted. There was a general concern about the extent of licentiousness, irreligion, depravity and bad habits among blacks. The absence of morals (or immorality) was regarded to be an essential trait of the African,
There is no question that conversations, actions, and customs which are quite outside the pale of white morality are regarded as normal and proper in native society.... In consideration of the so-called 'black peril' problem, these facts are worthy of attention.33
Black society was perceived as saturated with immorality. Since the eighteenth century, blacks had been associated with a deviant sexuality.-Blacks outnumbered whites, and daily contact between blacks and whites was unavoidable, so the dangers of the 'black peril' seemed increasingly real. This ethical evaluation of blacks meant they were seen to constitute a threat to the very basis of the white moral order. Strategies were urgently needed to protect the whites. The policy which, for example, Evans proposed; had:
for its definite object a separation of the races as far as was possible, to reduce instead of increasing the points of contact, .... To our utmost power we must carry out the doctrine that white must keep white and black must keep black.34
The SANAC Commission proposed residential segregation 'to prevent close contact between European and Native'. Its concern about the morals of the black population was fundamentally a political concern to retain the purity of the white race and the standards of 'civilised morality'. The Commission proposed the use of tribal authority to control the 'proper standards of morality' and 'other vices'.35 As Hoernle emphasised,
to maintain white domination is the deepest aim of South African Native Policy.... To protect white South Africa against 'The Native Danger' - die donkergevaar or die swart-gevaar - is, beneath all superficial complexities, the simple pole towards which the needle of Native Policy steadily points.36
Another characteristic of this domain was its investigation into the sources of black corruption. The prevalent vices of the blacks formed one great field of corruption,
Heredity is a potent factor in determining the present condition of the race. Behind them are centuries of conservatism, generations of idleness, superstitions, war, lust and gluttony. It was the correct thing for a man to be lazy.... The idea is ingrained in the natives mind that work, for work's sake is unnecessary and foolish. Only many years of teaching and example will remove the conception.37
The natural tendencies and developed bad habits of the African were seen as another source of corruption. Caldecott quoted Walter Bagehot:
Pre-historic man was substantially a savage... but he differed in this from our present savages, that he had not had time to ingrain his nature so deeply with bad habits, and to impress bad beliefs so unalterably upon his mind as they have.38
The solutions were placed in three categories,Religion ('perhaps that which has proved the most powerful factor in the world to affect man for good or evil, to mould his character, to determine his future, is religion')39 ,Industry ('manual work should bulk large in the education of the coloured people, whose minds cannot really be awakened except through intelligent industry'),40 andEducation ('Since the mental, social, and moral development of ourselves and of our children is inextricably bound up with that of the Natives, we must, if only in self- preservation, see to it that the "essential Kafir is educated"').41
If African principles and habits were a breeding ground for all kinds of immorality, then white society would have somehow to distance themselves from blacks, not only politically and economically, but also at the social level, since they provided the most dangerous points of contact.42
Blacks were seen as degenerate and untrustworthy; and their sexual behaviour aberrant and immoral. The focus on black sexuality was not only macro-structural; it was directed at the everyday lives of blacks and whites and the intercourse between them. The aim was to gain access to the bodies of individuals, their acts, their attitudes, their language and their everyday behaviour. From this followed the importance of distancing blacks from whites and disciplining them by refined techniques of conditioning and manipulation. But the sexual mores of blacks required new techniques of power to tackle vices which the entire population shared. The political significance of the problem of black sexuality was that sex and morality were located at the point of intersection between the discipline of the individual and the control of the population as a whole. Strangers were known to meet on trains, and the SANAC went as far as to propose separate amenities for black passengers.43 Taking as its starting point existing laws on sexual offences which included the Cape's prohibition of sexual relations between black men and white prostitutes in the Cape, or Natal where sexual intercourse between black men and white women was a criminal offence, or the Transvaal where such relations were totally forbidden,44 the Commission recognised that public policy would have to probe into the innermost details of everyday life if private morals were to be protected. Experts on 'Native Policy' recognised this and suggested that,
the individual treatment of the native by members of the ruling race will count, for more in the solution of the problems than punitive legislation or administrative regulations.45
If white racial solidarity was to survive, then every individual member of the community was exhorted to remember that 'for the time being, you stand to your native servant as the representative of all that "white man" should mean'.46
Another source in the corruption of morals was found in the 'demoralising' effects of civilization upon 'primitive races'. The SANAC Commission reported that,
It is clear that the Native year by year is becoming familiar with new forms of sexual, immorality, intemperance and dishonesty, and that his naturally imitative disposition, his virility and escape from hone and tribal influences provide a too congenial soil for the cultivation of acquired vices.47
Industrialization shifted the main arena of racial conflict to the towns.48 Already in the 1880s the bad effects of towns upon blacks had been noted,
The raw, untutored, unclad kaffirs, fresh from their 'kraals' up the mountains, are by far the best and most trustworthy workmen. The contact of civilization seems to be almost invariably pernicious and demoralizing to the peculiar organization of our kaffir friends. Above all things, mistrust a kaffir who speaks English and wears trousers.49
The 'civilised' black, everyone agreed, was not as docile or manageable as the 'raw kaffir'.
This analysis of the sources of corruption also recognised the demoralising consequences of the cities upon white workers as well as upon blacks, and how 'poor whites', or 'bad whites', might undermine the 'respectability' of the white community.50 The bad behaviour of 'poor whites' could lead blacks no longer to respect their white masters. The visible vices of whites provided examples of bad-conduct which an impressionable black population might imitate when exposed to the influences of city life, and would undermine black perceptions of white superiority.
However, this discourse was not simply concerned with the extent of corruption and depravity. It also enquired into the reasons why blacks were particularly susceptible to corruption. Part of the answer was seen to be the disruptive transition that blacks underwent when they moved from their traditional systems which exercised complete control over each member to the quite different environment of the city which had as yet no system of authority and control that they would 'understand'. Experts on 'Native Policy', feared the consequences for the white race were potentially
disastrous, and probably result in our own towns and industrial centres being overrun by a horde of vagabonds, unrestrained by any ties or control excepting the law of the white man, not understood and unrecognized.... For our own ultimate good,... the points of contact of the races are already too many and too close, and to multiply and intensify them for what is, at bottom, our economic gain is a policy likely to be fraught with evil for both races.51
The absence of moral discipline amongst city blacks provided the reasoning behind a policy to protect the white race, and to regulate and limit the points of contact with them.
The discourse on the state of public morals was intimately connected with the concern for the welfare of the white community. The effects of the war, changes in land tenure and the shortage of farming land produced a generation of unskilled Afrikaners, commonly referred to as poor whites.52 The proletarianization of Afrikaners took on a specific form in South Africa. Black and white workers alike who migrated to the towns and industrial centres were unskilled and competed for the same jobs. However, government sought to protect and assist poor whites; aid for farmers, social welfare measures, increased educational facilities for whites and protection for them against black competition in industry. Poor whites in any event refused to perform menial jobs, referring to such labour as 'kaffirwerk'53 This anxiety about the predicament of the poor whites reflected the general concern about their deterioration, which was likely to result in the intermingling of the races. This would endanger the very basis of white civilised standards. As De Kiewiet has pointed out,
The degradation of the poor whites became therefore of vital interest to the entire white population. There was no ideal to which the country was more firmly attached than to the maintenance of a white South Africa.54
The moral concern for the state of the poor whites thus became a political concern. Inter-racial contact threatened to promote social intimacy between poor whites and blacks, and this eventually would erode race consciousness, and the continued subservience of the blacks. As one Afrikaner put it, not only did the poor white,
sink from the social and communal standards of the white community to those of the non-whites, but the non-white, as a result of these contacts and this social intimacy, lost the necessary respect for whites in general, and developed in his heart a feeling of defiance and a dangerous desire for equality with the whites.55
At issue was the problem of how to stamp the authority of white government over the entire black population. Shepstone was among the many contemporary witnesses who felt that the black no longer regarded the white man with respect. Since the authority of the Governor, the native department and chiefs and leaders had been undermined, Shepstone found this 'reckless disregard of authority and contempt for the white man' hardly surprising.56 Since authority was derived from the moral sentiment of the people, anything which subverted this sentiment ultimately subverted that. The 'first law of nature, viz 'self-preservation' demanded that the government act to restore white authority.57 The analysis of the causes of deterioration in public morals thus turned into an analysis of why authority over blacks was coming to be eroded; the increasing lack of black respect for whites served to define a political problem and the strategy to remedy it.
A part of this strategy is illustrated in SANAC's recommendation that there be a territorial separation, a division of the country into white and black areas, for purposes of residence and ownership. It proposed the establishment of segregated 'locations' for urban blacks; it also urged the political separation of blacks from whites, with Africans to be represented by whites in the federal legislature.58 South Africa was going to be a white man's country, 'for good or ill the white man and what he stands for must be paramount'.59 This was the central objective of the SANAC and its recommendations on segregation provided the basis for both a 'Native Policy' and for the regulation of relations between the races. Maurice Evans, a proponent of segregation, agreed with the Commission that:
The white man must govern... The main line of policy must be the separation of the races as far as possible, our aim being to prevent race deterioration, to preserve race integrity, and to give to both opportunity to build up and develop their race life.60
This concern to preserve the racial purity of the whites and promote collective welfare on racial lines was to regulate contact between whites and blacks through practices which divided the population into distinct racial compartments. This involved a binary division of the population, and the expulsion of blacks into self-enclosed domains on the other side of the divide; it also lay behind the restoration of the 'tribal' system and the setting up of locations, reserves and compounds in the apartheid period. From 1910 onwards, measures which divided the population racially and made blacks exiles in their own country were consistently pursued.61 Towns were to be the white man's abode,62 blacks were to be 'distinctly discouraged' from residing permanently in towns; their status should be that of 'mere visitors'.63
In 1910 a commission on native affairs condemned the 'heterogeneous settlements which have sprung up in the towns where there exists no organised state of society nor recognised code of public morals'. It prescribed that blacks must periodically return to their rural homes in order to be rehabilitated as 'reformed and law abiding members of the community'.64 The restoration of the traditional African systems was another device to protect the state of public morals, and became an integral part of 'Native Policy' and the system of segregation.
The aim of the segregation programme was summed up in these words: 'By one and the same stroke we are to protect white civilization from the native and to protect the native from white civilization.'65 This was the point at which the concerns of the discourse on the State of the African Population overlapped with the discourse on The State of Public Morals. The former transformed the management and administration of blacks into a moral discourse about the habits and thinking of the Africans. It was precisely this transformation which permitted 'Native Policy' to be perceived in terms of the system of segregation, and enabled segregation ultimately to emerge as solution to the 'Native Question'.
The Deculturized African
During this period many statements on the need for a 'Native Policy' to achieve the rehabilitation of Africans were founded on a discourse on the deculturization of the African. This discourse was formed along the same general lines as the discourse on public morals - the specific nature of the individual black was related to a multiplicity of sources of corruption: the African traditional system, the bad effects of contact with white civilization, life in the cities, and the absence of any principle of conduct in the mind of the deculturised African which explained his lack of respect for whites and their laws. Shepstone contrasted the 'moral training' of centuries which kept the European law-abiding, with 'the native' who knows no law but the law of necessity.' He conceded 'that under restraint, and the discipline of contact with the right class of European, the native becomes a useful and law-abiding servant or citizen', but 'the undeveloped native', no more than 'our original ancestors' had no 'conscience as we understand the word.'66
This discourse had two principles around which projects to improve and discipline blacks were organised, the first the good influence of traditional systems upon blacks, and second, the effects upon the blacks of the erosion of these systems. The African or traditional system was seen as in impediment to the social and economic progress of blacks, since it was based on a lifestyle of idleness. It was objectionable because it gave rise to false principles of conduct (such as sensuality and lust) and rendered slacks incapable of working.67 The African had no idea of the work ethic because,
In their tribal society they seemed to have reached a stage at which incentives to progress failed them. They lived under easy climatic conditions; their wants were few; and the communal policy and rigid customs of tribal life gave individual tribesmen little opportunity or inducement to improve their lot.68
Every white condemned the idleness of the black, but more importantly, they viewed it as an inherent trait. Work was justified morally, since it would have a 'civilising effect' over blacks. As the SANAC reported,
The many thousands of Natives constantly employed on farms, railways and public works, and in mines and workshops are inevitably being brought under what is, in the wider sense of the word, an educational influence, and are therefore becoming more useful and productive members of the community.69
This plan to improve the black by inducing him to work embodied the main project of the white community, namely, the moulding of black behaviour. The compound-system was a means of disciplining blacks and exercising social control over them and it was used by mining companies, factories and the railways. It was a technique for organising and training blacks, and was also as a means of exercising economic power over them. Projects to 'educate' and 'improve' blacks were in broad consonance with the new strategy of power relations: whites discovered the means to extend fine nets of control over the lives of individual blacks.70
The traditional African system, it was generally accepted, produced no stimulus to work, nor any desire for improvement among individual blacks.71 The paramount objective was to devise measures to induce blacks to work. One obvious solution was to have forced labour.72 This was supported by those mining companies, farmers and others who needed to recruit black labour. As one commentator put it, 'I certainly think it necessary to compel the native to work'.73 During this period Africans were persuaded to work in the mines either by physical force, or by a system of debt-inducement which mining companies encouraged by their links with traders in rural areas.74 The 1913 Land Act drove blacks off the land and at a stroke transformed them into a rural proletariat. The measures which the demand for labour promoted mark the transformation of blacks into drones serving the needs of the white man. And it was precisely because African life was perceived as backward and stagnant, and because of the prevalent view of the African as indolent, that it was possible to argue that the destruction of African life would be the very means of its regeneration.
The main effect of the erosion of the traditional African systems was seen to be the weakening of 'tribal' discipline over individual blacks. The black was a socialist, incapable of conceiving 'that he has rights against those of the tribe.'75 The disruptive transition from a socialistic system to the individualistic society of whites in cities, for example, weakened the black sense of responsibility, his disciplined acceptance of collective duties and his moral constraint.76 Consequently blacks were 'deteriorating and being rapidly spoiled.... unabashed impudence... accompanied by selfishness and lack of consideration for others, qualities foreign to native character' were now regrettably common faults among them.77
It has been seen that some experts on 'Native Policy' looked to traditional African systems as a potential stabilizing force which could now be utilised by whites to discipline and control blacks.78 There was, of course, a potential contradiction here. Traditional African society was seen to generate idleness and obstruct the flow of labour; yet its disintegration led to an erosion of moral sense and discipline among blacks. These contradictory impulses influenced the proposals put forward by the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association, the Labour Bureau, and other groups involved in labour recruitment and control.79 After the 1890s mining companies learnt to co-operate to secure labour, their most urgent need,80 and the ideologists of capital began to fashion the arguments upon which the coercive recruitment of black labour could be justified. The Labour Bureau, a central body, attempted to co-ordinate control over blacks coming from all parts of South Africa. It organised contracts, settled wage levels and distributed black workers to various mines. But more importantly it functioned as a body which transformed blacks into a labour force. This transformation involved the sequestration of blacks, fixing them to the production apparatus by instilling habits through compulsion, teaching and correction: in short the disciplining of blacks.
'Knowing the native' was the basis for these disciplinary measures. In the 1890s the compounds which were being introduced in the Witwatersrand were viewed as the most effective means to manage and control the black labour force. Perceived as being like a 'child', the black could be disciplined by the white since children are regulated by adults. It was in their own interest that Kaffirs, just as children, should have 'special control and supervision when exposed to temptations to which, in their natural condition, they are unaccustomed.' Without a compound system the black would 'roam unrestricted, and not improbably inebriated.’81 Compounds would provide instruments of total control over black workers, with the additional advantage that by confining blacks, the rest of the white community would be protected from the ill-effects of contact.
Knowledge of the habits and nature of the black worker also governed the formulation of the proposals about how they should be treated. In general, these proposals included the establishment of what can best be described as a moral police, the white supervisor of the compound who exercised powers of complete and constant inspection to prevent the practice of bad habits within the compound by which might corrupt others. The compound manager, 'placed as he is, in charge of a number of grown-up children', must have sufficient authority to punish and considerable latitude in its exercise; and it was assumed that 'a white man accustomed to the habits, usages and languages of natives will exercise that quiet authority which long command of inferiors gives.'82
As De Kiewiet recognised, the critical question of the time was how the mining industry was to be organised and controlled and what effect the industry would have on the relationships between whites and blacks.83 In the event, the mining industry used pre-existing forms of racial practice but adapted them to the new conditions.84 The racial structure within the industry, and particularly the compound system, also served the political interests of the white community by isolating black mine workers from white workers and cutting them off from life on the Rand. This tactic flowed naturally from the discourse on public morals. The mining industry established its own form of segregation, by perpetuating racial practices which were already prevalent throughout South Africa. These measures to manage and discipline black workers were the outcome of the general demand for a native policy. That policy was portrayed as being directed at remedying the disabilities of blacks, and was presented in the mode of a solution to a moral problem - the proliferation of idleness and irregular habits in a population devoid of moral principle.
This suggests that the call for a 'Native Policy' in this period reflected the need for a multi-valent strategy to tackle the problems of administering and disciplining blacks, securing the authority of a white government, ensuring law and order, and setting up a system to separate blacks and whites in every way - economically, territorially, politically and socially. However, the reasons for multi-valence derived from what was perceived as its single function of encouraging true (that is, white) principles of conduct as a basis for inculcating useful habits among blacks. Each of the discourses delineated above postulated their objects of concern as a moral problem (the association of white culture with purity, virtue and industry and black society, in contrast, with impurity, immorality and idleness). They pointed to the imperative that native policy must strive to keep South Africa a white man's country, and must sustain the power and hegemony of its dominant race.
This section examines the emergence of technologies of power oriented towards individual blacks; and an increasing centralization of political racism by the state.
Technologies of Racial Practices
Since the gold mining industry has had a powerful impact upon South Africa's modern development, its role in establishing its own forms of racism, and the specific manner in which it created a docile and disciplined black labour force must be considered. Here the focus will be on the development and diffusion of methods for disciplining the black labour force rather than upon the process of economic production and capital accumulation.85 This might help to explain the specificity of racism during this period. As Foucault has commented,
If the economic take-off of the West began with the techniques that made possible the accumulation of capital, it might perhaps be said that the methods for administering the accumulation of men made possible a political take-off.86
In early industrial South Africa capital, accumulation would not have been possible without the overtly racist exploitation of the black populations.
Johnstone has described the general structure of the gold mining industry in South Africa before 1922. The industry comprised two 'classes', the owners of the means of production, and those who worked for them. The working class was itself divided between a small group of white workers who were politically free, and a large group of blacks who were not. In Johnstone's words, 'The industry was made up of members not just of two classes but also of two different... "racial" groups... related together in a dominational system of racial differentiation, operated by the "whites" over "non-whites"',87a hierarchical structure on racial lines already evident in Kimberley's diamond industry, where there were three groups: the mine owners, white workers with the vote and black workers deprived of access to any legitimate institution of power.88Control over black workers vas established through the compound and pass systems, and by enforcing the master and servant laws. Thus Kimberley provided the gold-mining industry in the Rand with a model for its organisation.
From the outset, black workers were hedged around with prohibitions. They could not normally purchase property, and the 1913 Land Act, which demarcated rest land as 'white areas', further restricted their right to buy land.89 Once minerals had been discovered, laws had been passed to prevent blacks from having property or trading rights in mining areas. As the Gold Law of the Transvaal stated in 1898, 'No coloured person may be a license holder, or in any way be connected with the working of the gold mines, except as a working man in the service of whites.90 The rights of blacks were reduced even further by the Master and Servant Laws, the Pass Laws and a franchise which deprived them of all political power.
The liberty of movement of Africans was restricted by Pass Laws. Controlling black movement to protect the white social order, to prevent crime and vagrancy, and crowding in cities, or to channel black labour from rural to urban areas where it was needed, goes back as far as 1780 when slaves and Khoikhoi at the Cape were required to carry documents allowing them to move from country to town.91 In spite of Ordinance 20 of 1828, the Boer republics, and Natal and the Cape revived the pass system.92 When the union was established, it was taken for granted that influx policies would be built into the new political system. In 1922 the Stallard Commission justified the pass system by claiming that towns were white areas which blacks could enter only to minister to the needs of the white man.93
The Master and Servants Act (which, in Transvaal dates from 1880) and the Native Labour Regulation Act of 1911 made it a criminal offence for a black to break a civil contract with a white employer. Under this Act grievances had to be referred to labour inspectors of black labourers who were appointed by the Governor-General. Inspectors had the authority to arrest blacks suspected of contravening any regulations, and had jurisdiction over many categories of breaches of discipline by blacks.94 The mining industry made full use of these measures, some of which were inherited from the pre-industrial period. From the outset black workers in the mining industry experienced a system of constraints and prohibitions which deprived them of liberties that the white worker assumed as his right.
White workers were in quite a different situation. They possessed a considerable degree of economic and political power. Being white they were not subject to racial discrimination. They were politically free; they were allowed to vote and to organise trade unions in which they could make demands to their employers.95 Thus the mining industry consisted of a large group of black workers with a pre-determined inferior status, and a small stratum of white workers occupying a positional superiority. The mining industry from the beginning was a site of dividing practices - black workers and white workers, with the blacks disciplined and exploited to an extent never experienced by the whites.
The Disciplining of Blacks: the Engine of Instruction
The most important feature of the compound system was that it served a political function. It was a particular form of housing, or rather interning, blacks, organising black workers to go down the mines and at the same time isolating them from white society. The towns thus remained white, blacks were well-concealed and posed no threat to the state of public morals, in spite of their large presence in mining areas. The compound system saw to it that whites would not be 'swamped' by blacks and that the old system of keeping the black in his ‘proper place’ would survive.96 The compound system effectively curbed the freedom of blacks. In the early years of diamond mining, before compounds were introduced, the mining camp 'was a dangerous place to walk about after dark, drunkenness and violence were rampant'.97 In Kimberley these problems had been tackled by the establishment of entirely closed compounds where workers worked for the duration of their contracts under the total control of supervisors and managers. The compound system was found to be so effective that it was introduced into the Rand.98
The compound system under surveillance was both a model of discipline and order, and an engine of improvement and beneficial activity. In 1894, Mr. Barnes, 'Government Protector of Natives', gave the compounds a good report and wrote of the cleanliness, sobriety, good health, and thrift of the compound native compared with the town boys.99 The compound system was justified in moral terms, since it was viewed as beneficial for the blacks. It exercised a moral regulation of behaviour by inculcating the correct principles of conduct, but its importance was increasingly gauged by its effectiveness in improving the productivity and hence the profitability of the mining enterprise.100
The compound system used discipline as a means to modify, improve and mould a black working population whose principles and habits were regarded as pastoral, 'indolent', 'undisciplined' or 'dirty'. As Foucault explained, discipline is a power which infiltrates the very body and psyche of the individual. Since blacks were 'irregular' labourers, traditionally 'small cultivators and herdsmen',101 they were prone to desert, and the compound system served to integrate them into the apparatus of production, in which a significant part of their life was constituted as labour time in which their labour was available to be expended.102 In other words, African life and energy was transformed into a commodity which was continuously available. As will be shown, the compound system achieved this through discipline, through particular methods which made possible a precise control of the operations of the bodies of blacks, the effects of which has been a maximization of the black labour force as a useful force and a reduction or regulation of black labour as a political force.103
The guiding principle of the compound system was the internment of black workers and their isolation from the outside world. Rev. Moffat described the compounds where workers in the diamond mines lived for the duration of their contracts: 'When they enter the gate they have done with the outside world’.104 The compounds were constructed as virtual prisons. According to the police, the model compound was that of the City Deep Mine, 'It is surrounded first of all by a high galvanised iron fence. It has barbed wire on the top which prevents anybody getting in or out.'105 It was built in such a way that goods could be taken in and out without even opening the gates. A compound was regarded as efficient if it could adequately 'contain' African workers, had a reliable guard with adequate arms and ammunition and rigorous surveillance over entry and egress.106 In effect, black workers were interned in order to transform them into a docile labour force. In the compound all the minutiae of their daily conduct-eating, sleeping, exercise and leisure - were closely regulated under a system intended to mould behaviour and to train blacks to live under white domination.
The compound system was designed to maintain a disciplined black labour force. Before the compounds in Kimberley and the Rand got under way, Thomas Collingwood Kitto, a mining inspector, contrasted the poor quality of black labour in South Africa with that of Brazil; one Brazilian black did the work of three blacks in Kimberley. This he attributed to the system in Brazil by which the blacks were virtually imprisoned in a barracks, 'built in the form of a square, the outer wall being much higher than the inner wall'. A roof sloping inward, a high gate at the entrance, the security of a prison, roll calls, and the discipline of a penitentiary characterised the system in Brazil. Kitto concluded that 'the natives of South Africa, under European supervision, are capable of being made almost - if not quite - as good as the blacks of Brazil, provided they are dealt with in the same manner.'107
The compound system was based on three principles: the prevention of desertion, with a fixed duration of six to nine months established by contract;108 obligatory work paid for in wages; and thirdly, a strict time table, under continual supervision, backed by a complex of rules and regulations to 'protect and improve' which held the black workers in a tight grip. Disciplining the blacks within the compound involved their control and distribution in space. They were confined within an enclosure,
composed usually of a quadrangle of long brick buildings... within the buildings are long tiers of bunks, usually made of cement, with a 'perfecto' surface, upon which the natives sleep.109
The compound was a disciplinary machine which used space in a calculated way; blacks were partitioned into different 'tribal units', such as Zulu, Xhosa or Basutho, to prevent them ganging up or rebelling. This compartmentalisation of blacks into specific spaces provided a means to identify and supervise an otherwise undifferentiated mass. As Foucault puts it, 'Discipline organises an analytical space.110
Since they were by habit 'irregular' and 'discontinuous' workers, blacks were now fixed to the working place. Space was used to establish rhythms and to regulate the cycles of repetition, effective means of inculcating an industrial concept of time among black workers. The authority of the white supervisor, significantly, was co-extensive with the entire disciplinary machinery. The white was allocated the tasks of supervision, while the black was fixed inside a disciplinary grid that coerced him by means of perpetual observation.
During his stay in the compound the black worker, was made docile and was improved’ under the constant scrutiny of the white man, whose judgement and a assessment defined his very existence. Discipline within this context was an act of racial hierarchisation. And finally, the authority that a white supervisor exercised was based on a calculated technique; the utilization of the pre-existing structure of relations between a chief and his subjects,
establishing the relations of chief and subject between each labourer engaged and the mine manager.... It is essential to utilise the native habit of looking to his recognised head and of implicit obedience to it, and that the manager should be constituted in the native mind as a tribunal for ultimate appeal under any grave sense of injustice.111
After being confined in the compound the black was further 'confined' by a tribunal of white supervisors and mine managers.
These various techniques used in the compound system were effective. An impressed observer described the results:
I spent a Sunday afternoon in the compound. There were about 2,700 men off work, and left entirely to themselves. The only visible sign of control was the two policemen who kept the gate. The men had arranged themselves according to their tribes in front of the barracks in which they sleep.... There were the Zulus, behaving after their manner, showing not much sign of civilization, but orderly and dignified. There were the Amaxosa, and the Basuto and Bechuana. Some of these were sitting quietly reading their books, or writing letters at the tables in-doors.... Peace and order reigned.112
As the witness concluded, 'so far as I know, these are the facts of the compound system... it has saved thousands of them [i.e. blacks] from untold misery and degradation.'113 The compound system, then, formed an impressive realization of the kind of 'abstract machine' that Foucault talks about with reference to the Benthamite Panopticon,114 but directed to the specific end of inculcating the correct habits for the formation of correct and true principles demanded by white society.
The compounds therefore constituted an organised space and 'engine of instruction' by means of which blacks could be subjected to a discipline aimed at inculcating the work ethic, the true principle of conduct, and also respect for white authority. The discursive structure of this notion of a principle of conduct, which was a central condition in the formation of the analysis of the moral state of the population, was also central to the formulation of racist ideas in South Africa. It also serves to make intelligible the technologies of racial practices in South Africa during this period.
State Biologism and the analysis of Races
From 1910 onwards the political rationality of racism came to be thoroughly inscribed within the state and its apparatuses.115 Specific to this formation was the new principle of white society as a social body. This social body of whites, seen as a pure race embodying civilization and progress, was seen to need to be protected in a quasi-medical sense. The policy of segregation was the organising principle around which the white community extended its autonomy as a superior race, its power and hegemony. Segregation involved forming an epistemological, political and social basis by which blacks could be isolated and excluded from social intercourse with Europeans; this would in turn create a space that made possible a dominating white social order. To use Foucault's idea in a different context, the unification of the white state marks the 'entry of phenomena peculiar to the life of the human species into the order of knowledge and power, into the sphere of political techniques.'116
In this period, South Africa began organising itself on a thematic of white racial purity and the collective welfare of the entire white race. As Smuts put it,
Instead of mixing up white and black in the old haphazard way, which instead of lifting up the black degraded the white, we arc now trying to lay down a policy of keeping them apart as much as possible in our institutions. In land ownership, settlement and forms of government we are trying to keep them apart, and in that way laying down in outline a general policy which it may take a hundred years to work out.117
Racism in South Africa took shape at this point in its modern, biologizing statist form. Segregation, by isolating persons along the lines of race, passed off racism as something natural. Segregation as racist discourse created its own language by instituting, declaring, writing, and prescribing a system in which were designated and assigned within a specific appellation of discriminatory practices. It was a juridical, political and state racism in which Man was defined first and foremost in terms of 'race'. This went beyond the question of maintaining white dominance; at stake was the biological existence of the white race.
The mythologisation of blood was not only symbolic; it became a reality through the themes of health, progeny and the future of the white race. The notion of blood reflected racial identity. In Coetzee's brilliant essay, 'Blood, Taint, Flaw, Degeneration', he shows, in the novels of Sarah Gertrude Millin, that the vocabulary of blood is pervasive. It is through blood that Millin distinguishes African from European. When blood is mixed, a flawed, degenerate and lower type of species is produced: 'The Griqua type of half-caste... is lower than the Kaffir'.118 Concern was expressed about the moral and physical degeneration of the white race in the language of 'race fusion' and miscegenation. Degeneration and sexuality evolved together and provided complementary paradigms for understanding human development. Eugenics were linked to the concern with the prevalence of perversions and fears of 'degeneration'. Uncontrolled sexual practices could result in the extinction of a one's race, or could produce inferior races. This concept was widespread and deeply implanted in the language and imagination of white South Africa. As Hoernle wrote, the South African attitude to the admixture of races was derived from an ideal of race purity, race dominance and the maintenance of white civilization and culture. Therefore, 'any mixing of superior white with inferior black blood must lower the culture-creating and culture-maintaining qualities in the offspring of such miens, and thus undermine the continuance of white civilization by deterioration of the human stock on which it depends.'119
An entire social practice and a state-directed racism provided the ideas of race-fusion and degeneration with a segregationist ideology and a practice by which the population as a whole was to be governed. The preoccupation with the dangers of miscegenation revealed prevailing anxieties and fears about the potential dangers to western civilization when faced with blacks flooding into the towns and 'swamping' the whites.120 In the twentieth century the politics of settlement, education, social hierarchization, and property in South Africa were accompanied by a long series of interventions at the level of the body, conduct, health and everyday life of the black and received their justification from the concern with the purity of the white race and its very survival. A racially structured ordering of South African society, with the extension and multiplication of micro-powers under strict state control, was sustained by the conviction of white superiority and its exaltation into a principle of government.
Segregation was a conscious policy, a process and a system that was morally and intellectually justified. For blacks it entailed their increasing subordination, exclusion and subjection, intensified by legislative enactment and force. For the proponents of segregation it was a humane solution to South Africa's most intractable problem; it would enable each group to develop to its highest potential, at its own pace, in its own way, maintaining its distinctive cultural values, while others saw merit in it as the only way to tackle the impending dangers of miscegenation and the degeneration of the white race.
Ultimately, segregation rested on the premise that important differences existed between Europeans and Africans. These differences came to be identified with the idea of distinctiveness, which in turn was explained on the basis of culture, environment, history and in due course biology. The analysis of races in general had the following characteristics:
Chapter 7: White Domination and Black Subjection ↵
This chapter begins with a brief account of the formation of Afrikaner identity, an integral part of apartheid discourse, and examines some of the aspects the racist discourse specific to the period of 'apartheid'.
Afrikaner Identity: the Context
Several developments helped to shape Afrikaner identity during the first half of the twentieth century, including the introduction of a new political framework, and the impact of industrialization upon Afrikaners who increasingly migrated to the cities. The Union of South Africa in 1910 represented a compromise between English-speaking whites who wanted to maintain their links with the British Empire and republican Afrikaners who continued to fight for independence. Until 1948, two parties, the South African Party and the United Party dominated South Africa politics but both lied on the basis of compromise, which sought to integrate the white population into a nation consisting of two white language groups. Distinctions were underplayed, and homogeneity was emphasized. Their leaders, Botha and Smuts, regarded Afrikaners and English-speaking whites as belonging to 'one stream', and their programmes emphasised that ‘no distinction of race as regards the European population is recognised'.1 However, a group of nationalists led by General Hertzog and Dr Malan opposed 'is strategy. Hertzog believed that the South African state should have a political identity of its own, independent of the British Empire, and Afrikaners should retain their unique 'nationality'.2 As the pioneers of 'South African civilization', Afrikaners had to guard their separateness from English-speaking whites, and Hertzog paid mere lip-service to the idea that Afrikaners and English-speakers were 'one People in spirit and feeling':
Community Life in South Africa flows in two streams - the English-speaking stream and the Dutch-speaking stream, each stream with its own language, its own way of life, its own great men, heroic deeds and noble characters. That this is so is the result of history.... each has the right to prize, to protect and to defend what is his own.3
Hertzog also made much of the 'ethnic' differences between black and white:
As against the European the native stands as an eight-year-old against a man of mature experience - a child in religion, a child in moral conviction; without art and without science; with the most primitive needs and the most elementary knowledge to meet these needs....
Differences exist in ethnic nature, ethnic custom, ethnic development and civilization and these differences shall long exist.... these differences in ethnic requirements, which will cry out for different handling - with regard to legislation no less than administration....4
So the duty of the white was to protect 'civilization' by helping the 'natives' to make the 'transition between the period of semi-barbarism and that of civilization'.5
At this point Afrikaner identity was defined in opposition to that of English-speaking whites who represented British imperialism, capitalism and 'liberalism'. Language was another weapon that both Malan and Hertzog used to mobilize the Afrikaner community. Already in 1908 Malan was exhorting his followers:
Raise the Afrikaans language, to a written language, let it become the vehicle of our culture, our history, our national ideals, and you will also raise the people who speak it.... The Afrikaans Language Movement is nothing less than an awakening of our nation to self-awareness and to the vocation of adopting a more worthy position in world civilisation.6
After 1914, the newly established National Party frequently criticized the Botha government for compromising with the English and failing to fight for equal rights for the Afrikaan's language. It regarded the South African Party's policy of conciliation as a threat to Afrikaans culture, and argued that Afrikaner culture could be maintained only by developing a distinct Afrikaner nationality free from English influence.7
In order to develop a sense of Afrikaner identity, nationalists took advantage of the psychological impact upon Boers of English domination. The speeches and writings of Afrikaner nationalists constantly harped on the Boer War and Boer experiences in British concentration camps. Poets described the suffering of Afrikaners in the war. According to van Wyk Louw, these writers were seeking the
...spiritual transfiguration of the war so that it would become meaningful and not remain a brute material happening for us... so that | we | could again become men, with human values and evaluations.8
By drawing attention to the grief and suffering of the Afrikaners, literature provided the means to formulate and express a clear awareness of Afrikaner national identity.
A sense of Afrikaner identity was also generated and firmly established in the political and economic fields. During the 1920s and 1930s urban Afrikaners saw themselves in racial terms as a white race and demanded a superior position to black workers as well as special assistance. When mine owners sought to give skilled jobs to blacks, white workers went on strike in 1922. The strikers, three quarters of whom were Afrikaners, rallied under the banner of white civilization in danger. In 1924 Hertzog's National Party merged with the Labour Party; this alliance was white, racist and anti-capitalist and fought on behalf of 'civilised labour' against the twin enemies, mining capital and urban blacks.9 Thus Afrikaner workers, rather than assuming a class identity, forged an alliance based on ethnic identity.
Afrikaner identity entered a new phase in the 1930s. Hertzog's National Party merged with Smut's pro-Empire South African Party. This was the United Party which the followers of Malan's 'purified' National Party regarded as a threat, since they feared that the United Party would be dominated by mining interests. In turn, this would divide the whites into two classes, capitalist and working, enabling capitalists to replace unskilled or even semi-skilled Afrikaner workers with cheap black labour. The attack on the it United Party was led by Afrikaans-speaking lawyers, teachers, intellectuals and civil servants,10 who felt threatened by the increasing influence of the English language, and the dominance that English-speakers tended to enjoy under United Party rule. But in the Transvaal, where farming capital continued to support the United Party, Malan's group had little support and its only potential political allies were white workers. The National Party feared that if all Afrikaners were cajoled into the United Party, their identity would be undermined, and they would be divided by class. In its turn, this would prejudice the chances of an Afrikaner Party winning power and promoting specifically Afrikaner interests.
Several factors help to explain why Afrikaner Nationalism became such a strong force in the 1930s and 1940s. Industrialization, dislocation, and rapid urbanization forced Afrikaners into unequal competition both with skilled English workers and cheap unskilled black labour. Afrikaners came mainly from poor rural backgrounds; they were also perceived as culturally backward and unsophisticated. Afrikaner intellectuals, educators and clergy played on this sense of insecurity and social inferiority to mobilize Afrikaners. They disseminated their ideas on the need to uplift, educate and develop the Afrikaners so that they could achieve autonomy and self-realization: alliance, solidarity and the inculcation of a distinct Afrikaner identity and nationality were the watchwords.11 The instability and difficulties Afrikaners faced during this period explains why they found apartheid so attractive. Hertzog and Malan both sought to mobilize Afrikaner support on the basis of Afrikanerdom. But Hertzog defined Afrikanerdom so as to include both Afrikaans and English-speaking whites as 'equal Afrikaners', provided only that they upheld the principles of 'South Africa First and full equality between the two white groups', while Malan's avowed aim was to unity Afrikaners alone.12 His Purified National Party emphasized the special place which Afrikaners had in South African society. He demanded an independent republic, asserting that national unity was possible only if English-speaking whites accepted a new South African nation built around the original and essential Afrikaner core.13 Afrikaners were urged to unite so as to lessen the economic gap between themselves and the wealthier English; only an Afrikaner nation could take measures to protect the poor white from competition with blacks which, according to Malan’s Party, threatened the white race with disintegration.14
In the 1930s, some Afrikaner intellectuals who supported the National Party began to construct an Afrikaner history and identity through the Afrikaner Broederbond.15 This was a secret society which infiltrated every aspects of Afrikaner Society,16 came to possess great influence in Afrikaner educational institutions. It inculcated Afrikaners with a sense of belonging an exclusive 'volk'.17 It disseminated a doctrine of Christian- Nationalism in which nations were regarded as products of a Divine Will, teach with a special role, and a distinct and separate culture.18 Being an Afrikaner meant holding unswervingly to specific political, cultural and ritual values.19 Broederbond intellectuals such as Nico Diederichs and Piet Meyer saw Afrikaners in a context where capitalists and workers occupied assigned places each with its particular rights and duties. In 1937, Diederichs described his vision:
There are matters upon which Afrikaners can clasp hands across the chasms of division, bitterness and fragmentation. Political programs disappear but culture continues to exist. We ought not to sacrifice our nation for a political party; we must stand together as a separate Afrikaner nation.... If the worker is drawn away from our nation, then we might as well write Ichabod on the door of our temple. The worker has always supplemented the higher classes; the working classes are the spring from which the nation draws.... In South Africa we believe that the Afrikaner worker is still the best and most reliable Afrikaner. He must be drawn into his nation in order to be a genuine man. There must be no division or schism between class and class.20
In Diederichs' view, the concept of Afrikaner hegemony transcended class alliance', and offered all sectors of the Afrikaner people a moral and intellectual leadership and a shared ensemble of ideas and values. As Gramsci explains, intellectual and moral leadership constitutes a 'collective will' and its ideology becomes the unifying principle of a 'historical bloc'.21 It was precisely through such a process that Afrikaners began to establish their identity as a distinct nation and a distinct race.
A significant feature in the development of Afrikaner identity was the reconstruction of Afrikaner history ('A nation of necessity creates its own past', J.J. Degenaar) by these intellectuals. Moodie has shown how Afrikaner intellectuals mythologised the Afrikaner past in religious terms. Events such as the battle of Blood river (the defeat of the Zulu chief, Dingane), the Wars of Independence against Britain, and the experience in those wars, of concentration camps were combined in a 'sacred history' where God revealed himself to the Afrikaners, a chosen people. According to Moodie, 'sacred history' was incorporated into civil religion and, particularly after the centenary celebrations in 1938 of the Great Trek, these ideas constituted an important part of Afrikaner identity.22 By 1938 most Afrikaners had been persuaded that they belonged to an elect people:
Our history is the greatest masterpiece of the centuries. We hold this nationhood as our due for it vas given us by the Architect of the universe. |His| Aim was the Formation of a new nation among the nations of the world.... The last hundred years have witnessed a miracle behind which must lie a divine plan. Indeed, the history of the Afrikaner reveals a will and a determination which makes one feel that Afrikanerdom is not the work of men but the creation of God.23
In relation to the blacks, Afrikaner identity was constituted in terms of its differentiation from African culture, race and religion. In the campaign to mobilize Afrikaner support in the late 1930s, the preservation of 'white civilization' was associated with the survival of the Afrikaner people. According to Malan, it was God who determined that they should be the bearer of Christian culture and civilisation in the dark countries', and it was God that 'surrounded this people by great dangers' - an unfruitful soil, droughts and plagues, and the continual threat of other peoples; and it was God who 'prevented the swamping of the young Afrikaner People in the sea of barbarism'.24 By mythologising Afrikaner history in this way Afrikaners came to view themselves as a people distinct from blacks at every level of existence. In its turn, this need to set themselves apart from blacks required a system of equivalences with which all Afrikaners could identify. By the time they went to the polls in 1948, Afrikaners had created a shared perceptual grid about their relationship to the black populations. Professor H.M. van der Westhuizen summed up this development:
Of all great ideals of the Voortrekkers their stance on colour remains the key to the future which awaits South Africa. As bearers of the Christian religion and Weltanschauung, of European civilisation and white blood of Afrikaans-Dutch forms of life, of the Boer culture and of culture in general, the generations of the Voortrekkers can always continue to exist in us and in our posterity and can grow to fullness if we hold today inexorably to the way which they have shown us....25
Identity, as this dissertation suggests, depends on an oppositional relation otherness. The beginning of the Apartheid period was marked by the definition of Afrikaner identity specifically in relation to blacks. In ms of the logic of equivalences, the Afrikaner nation (Volk) defined itself against the adversaries of the 'volk'. The system of equivalences that defined the 'volk' was based on 'race*, 'civilisation', 'blood', culture', 'religion', establishing a chain of equivalences which absorbed individuals into a collective entity, the Afrikaner nation. But the idea of the Afrikaner nation was expressed in counterpoint to its main enemy, the blacks. By constructing the blacks as enemy, (with a renewed emphasis on s 'black peril') and the negative reverse of the Afrikaner 'nation', a political frontier was created which divided the political space into antagonistic camps.26 Apartheid discourse portrayed racial distinctions as natural' and created a 'reality' which was the base from which Afrikaners interpreted their position in the wider context of South African society.
Apartheid was (and remains to this day) a discourse that aimed at constructing a programme for the specific formation of social reality in with Africa. In terms of its projected ideal, the discourse of apartheid was defined simultaneously as a target area of intervention (the regulation inter-racial relations) and a functioning totality which had to be put to practice. The ideal of apartheid resulted in a programme to separate ' different races at the level of their everyday lives. In a National Party pamphlet issued shortly before the 1948 elections, the guiding principles of the programme of apartheid were outlined:
It is the primary task and calling of the State to seek the welfare of South Africa, and to promote the happiness and well-being of its citizens, non-White as well as White. "Realising that such a task can best be accomplished by preserving and safeguarding the White race, the National Party professes this as the fundamental guiding principle of its policy. Accordingly, the party undertakes to combat any policy, doctrine or attempt calculated to undermine or endanger the continued existence of the White race.... The party holds that a positive application of apartheid between the White and non-White racial groups and the application of the policy of separation also in the case of the non-White racial groups is the only sound basis on which the identity and the survival of each race can be ensured and by means of which each race can be stimulated to develop in accordance with its own character, potentialities and calling. Hence intermarriage between the two groups will be prohibited.27
Apartheid can be seen as the 'general politics of truth' within the social reality of South Africa. As Foucault writes, truth is not outside of power; it is derived in the world, it is produced there 'by virtue of multiple constraints; and it induces 'the regulated effects of power'.28 In his words, each society has its 'regime of truth', its 'general politics of truth'. The guiding principles of apartheid stipulated that the racial separation of the entire population was to be the pre-condition of South African life. The principle of apartheid, embodied in 'the general politics of truth', were set out by Malan in 1947:
It stands for... civilization, culture and way of life and government of our country [which] shall not be swamped by races who have often only very partly or superficially acquired our form of civilization. Along with this we accept the fact that there is a fundamental difference between persons belonging to different colour groups. Whether this is as it should be or not does not really affect the problem. It is a fact and must be accepted, and one's approach to the problem must be based on this assumption.29
In the case of apartheid, the general politics of truth encapsulate various types of discourses and cause them to function as true.30
The mechanisms which enabled whites to distinguish statements about the characteristics of black and white races as true or false, the way in which both aspects were sanctioned, the techniques and procedures which were valorised for obtaining truth, and the fact that whites rather than blacks were given the power of saying what counts as true of blacks, were decisive elements in structuring the form of apartheid. In these discourses, apartheid tended to be characterised by five historical traits:
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