Segregated housing and contested identities : the case of the King William's Town coloured community, 1895 - 1946

Victor, Stephanie Emilia (2007) Segregated housing and contested identities : the case of the King William's Town coloured community, 1895 - 1946. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This thesis is a case study of the dynamics of coloured housing in King William's Town between 1895 and 1946. The impact of spatial segregation on pre-apartheid coloured settlements in the Eastern Cape has largely been ignored up to the present. This needs to be rectified as the lack of in-depth enquiry can lead to misinterpretations that may influence contemporary politics and identity formation. Through research based on primary sources, it has become apparent that segregation in King William's Town was safeguarded and rationalized through the discourses of sanitation and civilization, and the practices of relocation and removal. The existing slum cond itions were used as a convenient excuse to implement municipal control. Segregation compounded the problem of poverty, inequitable access to housing and the provision of basic services. As a result, local coloured housing was increasingly characterised by a shortage of decent accommodation and basic services, decreasing home ownership and increasing municipal tenancy. In addition, through the implementation of the 1923 Natives (Urban Areas) Act and the 1934 Slums Act, high sanitation standards were set, but the Council itself provided inferior services. Ironically, conditions in the relocated municipal settlements were also not on par with the provisions stipulated in the Slums Act that were used to effect removal in the first place. The implementation of racially exclusive housing was, therefore, not driven by a single role player. It was pioneered by the local authorities, legalised by national government and supported by the coloured elite, when needed, in an attempt to access decent housing. This occurred mainly through the political manoeuvring of the coloured elite, and specifically the African Political (later People's) Organisation (APO), the Afrikaanse Nasionale Bond (AN B) and the locally constituted Coloured Welfare Association (CWA) in King William 's Town. These organisations attempted to procure access to housing within the narrow boundaries of a prescribed identity. Segregated housing therefore fostered and sustained coloured identity. It consolidated feelings of separateness and division and provided impetus for the construction of race and even racial tension. Coloured identity attempted to serve as a rallying point to overcome differences in religion, family and social networks and place of residence in order to procure access to housing. It was not, however, able to overcome the occasional division between settlements, caused by well-developed placeidentities, which still inform the contemporary housing milieu. The coloured elite initially did not question the legitimacy of coloured identity. Only in 1939, under threats of increased residential segregation, combined with the resulting opposition in coloured protest politics, was the legitimacy of coloured identity publicly contested . By 1943, with the creation of the Coloured Advisory Council (CAC), local coloured unity proved to be insufficient. A division within the ranks of the local coloured elite was evident. As a result, the expression of coloured identity still remains contested in contemporary King William's Town.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Colored people, South Africa, King William's Town, Race identity, Race relations, Housing, Forced migration
Subjects:D World History and History of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, etc > DT Africa > South Africa
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > History
ID Code:2662
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:19 Apr 2012 12:27
Last Modified:19 Apr 2012 12:27
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