A social and cultural history of Grahamstown, 1812 to c1845

Marshall, Richard Graham (2008) A social and cultural history of Grahamstown, 1812 to c1845. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




This thesis examines the development of Grahamstown from its inception in 1812 to the mid-1840s, paying particular attention to the social and cultural life of the town. It traces the economic development of the town from a military outpost to a thriving commercial settlement, noting the essential factor of the town's proximity to the Cape frontier in this process. The economic interaction between diverse groups in the town mirrors the social and cultural interaction which occurred between British settlers, Khoekhoe and Africans. The result of these interactions was the creation of a new, distinctively South African urban society and culture, despite the desire of the white settlers to reproduce a “typical” English environment in their new home. The conflict between attempts to anglicise the urban environment and the realities of Grahamstown's situation on a colonial frontier was reflected in the architecture and layout of the town. Attempts to recreate an English social environment also failed. New classes arose in the town in response to the economic opportunities available on the frontier. Although some settlers prospered, many did not, and the presence of an impoverished white working class undermines settler historians' picture of settler success and affluence. The poorest people in the town, though, were the increasing numbers of Khoekhoe and Africans who migrated from the surrounding countryside, and who were unequally incorporated into the urban community as a colonial labouring class. In response to these unique circumstances, white settlers in Grahamstown developed a powerful political and propaganda machine, which helped lay the foundations of a distinct settler identity in the eastern Cape.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cities and towns, South Africa, Eastern Cape, Grahamstown, Urban community development, Social history of Grahamstown, Cultural history of Grahamstown
Subjects:D World History and History of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, etc > DT Africa > South Africa
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > History
ID Code:2640
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:19 Apr 2012 12:31
Last Modified:19 Apr 2012 12:31
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