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Title: The state and the making of the white settler agriculture in Natal c.1820-c.1990
Author: Lynas, Matthew Gibson
ISNI:       0000 0004 2737 562X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2012
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Contributions to the historiography of Natal’s agricultural development were limited and generally descriptive pre-1980s and fragmented thereafter. This thesis aims to address this by providing a more comprehensive understanding of agrarian land use which recognises not only monocultural dominance in the search for revenue by the colonial state but addresses the struggle of isolated white mixed farming communities in developing a viable agrarian economy. The postannexation years from 1843 was a period of transition marked by financial stringencies which limited the options for the governance of Natal. In particular this determined the nature of state relationships with landowners and Africans within the colony and set the precedents which impacted on agrarian land use during the second half of the nineteenth century. Chapter 1 provides a review of historical literature which considers the contributions of the main ‘schools of historical thought’ which interact in offering theoretical explanation on the aims of the state and settlers and the tensions with the rights of the indigenous people of Natal in relation to land. Natal, in comparison to the Cape was an isolated colony, deemed to have limited agrarian prospects and faced with political and economic challenges which dictated agrarian priorities. Chapter 2 considers the contextual precedents which impacted on settlement. The attraction of emigrants and agricultural settlement from mid-nineteenth century is recounted in Chapter 3 and the determination of such communities in overcoming subsistence conditions, coalescing into distinctive cultural identities, is developed in chapter 4 which highlights the dominance and influence of a landowning society on the direction of the colony in economic, political and social terms. Chapters 5 to 9 shift the focus to a white mixed farming community in the second half of the nineteenth century dependent on a vibrant African peasantry for staples, restricted by infrastructure, markets and the limitations of indigenized science and environmental knowledge. The traumatic events described in chapters 5 and 6 articulate the demand for organized state intervention in mixed agriculture in Natal. The role of the state changed with the Alfred Milner influence on the post bellum reconstruction of South Africa’s government administration from the first decade of the twentieth century. The promotion of science and technological change in South African agriculture and the apparatus for its dissemination marked a ‘tipping point’ in relation to the profile of mixed agriculture. The dominance of white landowner power is portrayed in chapter 7 reflecting the responses of both state and white farmers in the expansion of monocultural commercial land use. Chapters 8 and 9 turn the emphasis to mixed agriculture in providing understanding of the machinery of the state in promoting agricultural modernization and in assessing its assimilation at an individual level of white mixed farming in Natal in pre and post World War II years. This brings distinctiveness to this thesis because it deals with cultural, political as well as the economic and social determinants of change impacting on the agrarian history of Natal and allows conclusions to be drawn on the intensity of state support in promoting white agrarian prosperity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Natal (South Africa)