This is a substantial contribution to our understanding of the processes of the African homestead economy, labor tenant obligations obtaining within that social formation, and its dialogical relationship to urban employment in an era of social change resonating with issues of control, labour and tradition. This work makes a major contribution to the social history of Southern Africa during the inter-war years.
Atieno Odhiambo, Rice University
Lucid and Informative, [it] deepens our understanding of the historical links between industrialization and apartheid in South Africa through a detailed study of struggles between genders and generations in rural Natal during the 1920s and 1930s....McClendon makes skillful use of legal disputes over bridewealth and marriage to illuminate the consequences of drought, depression and racial discrimination for relations between men and women, parents and children within and between rural households.
Sara S. Berry, Department of History Johns Hopkins University
At a time when "heritage" has become a fashionable mantra [McClendon's] caveat that much that passes as "tradition" is a colonial construct is of particular importance. His deft and incisive case study not only explores a crucial and under-studied period in the history of KwaZulu-Natal; it also illuminated the multifarious legacy of segregation and apartheid for contemporary South Africa.
Shula Marks, FBA Emeritus Professor of Southern African History, University of London
South African segregation policies presaged the establishment of apartheid in 1948. Regimes of customary law and the institution of labor tenancy were essential to the state's efforts to control Africans. Each regime attempted to reinforce the hierarchies of gender and generation around which they revolved. Yet both regimes left openings for African dependents to undermine the authority of their African fathers and white settler farmers, exposing weaknesses in the wider structures of social control.
This book explores the intersections of labor tenancy and African customary law with the tensions of gender and generation, focusing on the province of Natal (now Kwa-Zulu Natal). McClendon utilizes court records, oral interviews with labor tenants, and South African archives to address historical issues that continue to affect the present. The result is a stimulating multidisciplinary integration of legal analysis, social history, and studies of rural dispossession and social change.