Jassat, E M (1976) A sociological analysis of the interrelation of the economic and political activities of Indian traders in East and South Africa from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

The Indians of East and South Africa form a minority group in complex social formations. The thesis looks at the position of this group from about the mid-nineteenth century to the middle of this century. In doing so I have concentrated upon the economic and political activity of the Indian minority of East and South Africa.
I have hoped to show that the Indians constitute a specific class formation in each society.
The first part of the thesis takes up the question of pluralism and its attempts to explain socially diverse social structures. Whereas pluralist theory offers its explanation on the basis of cultural and ethnic differences, I have relied upon that approach in sociology which tends to analyse and explain the position of social groups in terms of their class nature and function which is determined by the social relations of production of the society of which they form a part. The main problem I have posed within this framework is whether the Indian minority of East and South Africa constitute a petty bourgeoisie.
In their relationships with both white settler groups and Africans, the characteristic feature of the Indian minority in each society is that of changing sides, safeguarding immediate or short-term interests and occupying a socio-economic position which is 'in-between' the two major social groups.
In East Africa, the Indian settlers dominated the commercial sphere of the economy. Under colonialism, the Indians supported the colonial state from which they received safeguards and guarantees of their socio-economic interests. Colonialism in East Africa required an 'alien' class to dominate and run the commercial sphere of the economy.
The formation and development of an African class of trader and businessmen, the support this group extended to the nationalist move­ment and national independence, determined a change in the relation­ship the Indians had with the colonial state. Moreover, the class conflicts between the Indian traders and this new stratum of African petty bourgeoisie led to the displacement of sections of Indian settlers in East Africa.
In South Africa, the Indians formed two distinct groups: (1) The working class Indians who arrived earlier in South Africa to work on the agricultural plantations of Natal. They came as indentured labourers. (2) The trading class of Indians who came of their own volition. They mostly settled in the mining province of the
Transvaal.
The process of settlement of each group differed. The Indian labour force formed part of an elaborate and organised system of indenture. They had no political or social representation. The Indian trading class, on the other hand, were politically organised and were vociferous in their demands; for example, trading rights.
In the early stage of South African history (from the mid-nineteenth century to just before the second world war) the class composition of the national bourgeoisie of South Africa was dominated by the commercial-mining and agricultural groups. The latter 'represented' the Indian agricultural labourers. The Indian trading class competed with the commercial section of the white settlers.
The institutionalisation and formalisation of the ideology of 'apartheid' or national domination, by the Nationalist Party of South Africa from the mid-forties onwards, represents a confluence of interests of the white settlers as a whole. The Indian trading class begin, at this stage, to form a supplementary relationship to the national bourgeoisie of South Africa.
The economic and political activity of the Indian minority in each society has been viewed in terms of assessing their petty bourgeois nature or class position. In documenting and analysing these features I have tried to show that a marxist-sociological approach explains
the position of the Indian minority in terms of the system of production of which they formed a part.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: For access to the hard copy thesis, check the University Library catalogue.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Criminology and Sociology
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 09 May 2019 09:19
Last Modified: 27 May 2019 15:35
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/6300

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