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Title: Governing 'Poor Whites' : race, philanthropy and transnational governmentality between the United States and South Africa
Author: Bottomley, Edward-John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 4894
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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Throughout the twentieth century so-called Poor Whites caused anxiety in countries where racial domination was crucial, such as South Africa, the colonies of European empire and the United States. The Poor Whites were troubling for a number of reasons, not least because they threatened white prestige and the entire system of racial control. The efforts of various governments, organisations and experts to discipline, control and uplift the group necessarily disadvantaged other races. These controls, such as colour bars and Jim Crow laws, had an enormous effect on the countries where the Poor Whites were seen as a problem. The results can still be seen in the profoundly unequal contemporary racial landscape, and which is given expression by protest groups such as Black Lives Matter. Yet the efforts to manage the Poor Whites have thus far been examined on a national basis — as a problem of the United States, or of South Africa, to name just the most significant locales and regimes. This dissertation attempts to expand our understanding of the geography of the Poor Whites by arguing that the ‘Poor White Problem’ was a transnational concern rooted in racial interests that transcended national concerns. The racial solidarity displayed by so-called ‘white men’s countries’ was also extended to the Poor Whites. Efforts to control and discipline the population were thus in service of the white race as a whole, and ignored national interests and national borders. The transnational management of the Poor Whites was done through a network of transnational organisations such as the League of Nations and the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as the careering experts they employed. The dissertation argues that these attempts constituted a transnational ‘governmentality’ according to which these organisations and their experts attempted to discipline a Poor White population that they viewed as transnational in order to uphold white prestige and tacitly maintain both global and local racial systems. This dissertation examines some of the ways in which Poor Whites were disciplined and racially rehabilitated. It examines health and sanitation, education and training, housing standards and the management of urban space, and finally photographic representation.
Supervisor: Howell, Philip Mark Rust Sponsor: Commonwealth Scholarship Commission ; Rockefeller Foundation ; Smuts Memorial Fund ; Emmanuel College ; Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: South Africa ; Poor whites ; United States ; poverty ; inequality ; carnegie commission ; Rockefeller Foundation ; Carnegie Corporation ; governmentality ; town planning ; education ; photography ; geography ; history ; historical geography ; health ; transnationalism ; transnational ; philanthropy ; race ; identity ; postcolonial