n Journal for Contemporary History - Black labour and the concentration system of the South African War




Black people's part in the South African War, and also the existence of the black concentration camps, have received research attention since the 1970s. Most recently this has developed in two broad directions, one focusing on the black camps around the view that previous work "has greatly underplayed... [black people's] sufferings in the refugee camps", and the other on various African peoples and their involvement in and uses of the war, emphasising that "locality is an important factor in the way... [the war] was perceived and fought by black people...". Both have produced interesting published work. However, these two strands have developed largely separately from each other, with unintended consequences: it leaves the so-called 'burgher camps' being seen as white; and it fails fully to recognise that factors noted in different localities (increases in wage levels and in prices for agricultural produce, and increased demand for labour in a wide range of military, railway and harbour employment) were actually much wider phenomena.


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