Class, work and whiteness

Race and settler colonialism in Southern Rhodesia, 1919-79

By Nicola Ginsburgh

Class, work and whiteness


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4387-7
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: September 2020
  • BIC Category: SOCIAL SCIENCE / Discrimination & Race Relations, HISTORY / Social History, HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, HISTORY / Africa / South / General, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Zimbabwe, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism, Humanities / African history, History, Modern History, African history: pre-colonial period
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


This book offers the first comprehensive history of white workers from the end of the First World War to Zimbabwean independence in 1980. It reveals how white worker identity was constituted, examines the white labouring class as an ethnically and nationally heterogeneous formation comprised of both men and women, and emphasises the active participation of white workers in the ongoing and contested production of race. White wage labourers' experiences, both as exploited workers and as part of the privileged white minority, offer insight into how race and class co-produced one another and how boundaries fundamental to settler colonialism were regulated and policed. Based on original research conducted in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK, this book offers a unique theoretical synthesis of work on gender, whiteness studies, labour histories, settler colonialism, Marxism, emotions and the New African Economic History.


'It takes a fine eye and a supple mind to trace and understand the finest grains of the class and racial struggles that unfolded in colonial central Africa from their earliest manifestations in white trade unions to the Rhodesian Front's war against the insurgent Zimbabwean liberation movements. Ginsburgh's study, thematically rich and informed by great sensitivity to comparative issues and transdisciplinary studies, brings out every nuance of those struggles by showing how, just beneath the tectonic plates of manifest contestation swirls the hidden magma of class, gender, race and, contingently constructed, identity.'
Professor Charles van Onselen, author of The Fox and the Flies and The Seed is Mine


1 The making of white worker identity
2 The Great Depression and shifting boundaries of 'white work'
3 The Second World War
4 The 'multiracial' Central African Federation, 1953-63
5 White fights, white flight and the Rhodesian Front, 1962-79
Selected bibliography


Nicola Ginsburgh is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the International Studies Group at the University of the Free State, South Africa

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