Women in labour: the birth of colonial Natal

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Seminar Date
April 29, 2009
This paper analyses the collection of the first hut tax in the Colony of Natal in 1849-1850 from the perspectives of the officials in the Colonial Office in London who were debating the possibility of abandoning the Colony because of its inability to support itself, the officials in Natal who had to find way to raise a local tax, and the Diplomatic Agent Theophilus Shepstone who succeeded in doing so. It locates the origins of the tax in women’s labour in the broadest of senses, by reviving debates on the nature of modes of production and suggests that it is helpful to consider the concept of an animate mode and the process by which colonialism changes it to an inanimate mode of production. Or, as the Zulu proverb quoted on the title page suggests, from a society in which living made things, to one in which things made a living.
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