Current Institutional Affiliation
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Anthropology, Stanford University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Columbia University
Toward an Archaeology of Apartheid: The Origins of Segregation in South Africa`s First Industrial Mining Community

This project will be the first excavation and comparison of pre- and post-segregation assemblages from South Africa's earliest diamond mining community. The project focuses on the earliest Diamond Field communities and their informal consumption patterns, in response to which the first apartheid-style segregated housing was introduced in Kimberley, South Africa. According to archival sources, justification for segregated worker housing by elites and monopolists cited the difficulty of obtaining and securing a stable supply of laborers to work in the diamond mines: Census reports; however, indicate a large African population permanently settled in and around the Diamond Fields. This project will examine this contradiction, by employing a historically and materially informed understanding of what specific social practices the apartheid system was actually responding to. Specifically, it will consider the effects of segregated housing on consumption patterns and the more general political culture of early Diamond Field communities. In this view, apartheid was as much about controlling practices of consumption as it was modes of production, and this project will seek to demonstrate that, in the social laboratory that the Diamond Fields of Kimberley became, one of the main effects intended by the segregated worker housing was to coerce differential consumption habits in order to polarize white and African laborers. Importantly, the project will also seek to understand whether segregated housing effectively wrought such changes in the consumption habits of its compounded laborers, and whether the legacy of such as system persists in the contemporary consumption practices of descendant communities in Kimberley.