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Title: Subjects of the Crown : Khoesan identity and assimilation in the Cape Colony, c.1795-1858
Author: McDonald, Jared
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 491X
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis forwards a critical analysis of Khoesan assimilation in the Cape Colony between 1795 and 1858. The narrative traces Khoesan responses to colonial domination and representation with a particular focus on their identity as colonial subjects and the role that Khoesan, as assimilated 'Hottentots', played in the making of their own identity during this period. The study presents the hypothesis that British loyalism became a defining feature of 'Hottentot' identity during the early to mid-nineteenth century. Expressions of loyalty to the British Crown reflected 'Hottentot' claims to a civic identity that transcended their ethnically defined place within Cape colonial society. It is argued that 'Hottentot' loyalism functioned as a powerful collective identity that imbibed a sense of belonging to an imagined, British-inspired, civic nation via multiple and varied expressions of subjecthood. During the early nineteenth century, the Cape Colony witnessed spirited public debates over the desirability of the extension of civil rights to its indigenous subjects. In the process, 'Hottentot' subjecthood became entangled with loyalist impressions of empire which transcended local authorities and social hierarchies. The thesis contends that Khoesan appeals to social independence and 'Hottentot' nationalism - a label which has become standard in Cape historiography - did not run counter to loyalism, but rather functioned as affirmations of loyalism. The argument accommodates the seemingly contradictory, dual responses of resistance and assimilation, whereby assimilation as subjects became a potent form of resistance to settler colonialism. There was no universal group response to settler colonialism by the Cape Khoesan. The path to assimilated, 'Hottentot' subjecthood was determined by the individual's degree of exposure to ideas and imaginings of imperial civic nationhood. Colonial law, evangelical-humanitarianism and imperial commissions of inquiry all functioned as important conduits of the notions of imperial subjecthood and loyalism; together, and to varying degrees, these influences shaped 'Hottentot' civic identity within the ambits of settler households and mission stations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral