Class, work and whiteness

Race and settler colonialism in Southern Rhodesia, 1919–79

This book explores the class experiences of white workers in Southern Rhodesia. Interest in white identity, power and privilege has grown since struggles over white land ownership in Zimbabwe in the early 2000s, yet research has predominately focused on middle-class and rural whites. By critically building upon whiteness literature developed in the United States and synthesising theories of race, class and gender within a critical Marxist framework, this book considers the ways in which racial supremacy and white identity were forged and contested by lower-class whites. It demonstrates how settler anxieties over hegemonic notions of white femininity and masculinity, white poverty, Coloureds, Africans and ‘undesirable’ non-British whites were rooted in class experience and significantly contributed to dominant white worker political ideologies and self-understandings.

Based on original research conducted in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Zimbabwe, this book also explores how white workers used notions of ‘white work’ and white ‘standards of living’ to mark out racial boundaries. In doing so the author demonstrates how the worlds of work were embedded in the production of social identities and structural inequalities as well as how class interacted and intersected with other identities and oppressions. This book will be of interest to undergraduates and academics of gender, labour, race and class in African and imperial and colonial history, the history of emotions and settler colonial studies.

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