Revisiting white labourism: new debates on working-class whiteness in twentieth-century Southern Africa

TitleRevisiting white labourism: new debates on working-class whiteness in twentieth-century Southern Africa
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsD.J. Money, and D. van Zyl-Hermann
Secondary TitleInternational review of social history
Pagination1-23
Date Published2021
Publication Languageeng
Keywords1900-1999, race relations, social history, Southern Africa, Whites
Abstract

This article is a contribution to and reassessment of the debate about the concept of ‘white labourism’ hosted in this journal in 2010. White labourism is a concept formulated by Jonathan Hyslop to describe an ideology combining an anti-capitalist critique with racial segregation that he argued was dominant in a transnational white working class in the British Empire in the early twentieth century. The debate about this concept has focused on the appeal and extent of this ideology in South Africa during the early twentieth century. In light of recent scholarship on Southern Africa, we take a longer-term perspective to critically examine the concept and the debate. Specifically, we make three interventions into this debate: we consider the role of white workers outside British imperial networks; we examine how radical and revolutionary ideas disappeared from white-working class politics in the mid-twentieth century; and we reassess the connection between transnational flows of people and ideas. Racial divisions in the working class and labour movement in Southern Africa were persistent and enduring. We argue that racial segregation had an enduring appeal to white workers in Southern Africa, and the sources of this appeal were more varied and locally rooted than simply transnational migration to the region.

IR handle/ Full text URLhttps://hdl.handle.net/1887/3242894
DOI10.1017/S0020859021000407
Citation Key11271