"Eating the Sweat from my Forehead": Farm Worker Narratives from South Africa's Apartheid

Amanda Maria Young-Hauser, Jan K. Coetzee, Kwakhe Maramnco


In this article we draw on the life histories of farm workers living in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Subjectively interpreting their realities, the farm labourers narrated their experiences of living in the era before, during and after apartheid. The impacts of apartheid, carrying identification papers, for example, were experienced as peripheral with the most significant changes being the disruptions in their personal lives, such as a new farm owner who came to embody repression, authority, exploitation, but also paternalism and benevolence. The farm represented the space and place where complex interactions and unequal relationships between the worker and the farmer played out. The workers' narratives revealed deep-rooted connections to the land on which they lived, a land which did not belong to them. Land was for our research participants particularly important for animal husbandry, as a source of food and as a spiritual space of power where links and relationships to their ancestors were maintained and cultural practices took place. Subjugated knowledge, no formal education and farmers' paternalistic practices contributed to farm labourers' dependence on agrarian work and life on the farm.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1502308


agrarian class relation; apartheid; farm worker; interviews; life history; narrative analysis; paternalism; personal biography; phenomenology; place and space; South Africa

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-16.2.2202

Copyright (c) 2015 Amanda Maria Young-Hauser, Jan K. Coetzee, Kwakhe Maramnco

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