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Melancholia of FreedomSocial Life in an Indian Township in South Africa$
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Thomas Blom Hansen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152950

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152950.001.0001

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Ethnicity by Fiat

Ethnicity by Fiat

The Remaking of Indian Life in South Africa

(p.26) Chapter 1 Ethnicity by Fiat
Melancholia of Freedom

Thomas Blom Hansen

Princeton University Press

This chapter narrates the story of how the Asiatic question was configured in South Africa from the 1860s to the present as a question of necessary containment of culturally alien people. It describes how the township of Chatsworth was set up, imagined, and framed as a purely Indian space over decades of tense and often antagonistic tussle between policy makers and social activists. The chapter also looks at how specific methods of policing contributed to the current mythology of the Indian township during apartheid as fundamentally safe, as a place where “we never locked our doors.” It draws on official documents, newspapers, and governmental publications, as well as a range of narratives by older residents of Chatsworth.

Keywords:   Asiatic question, South Africa, culturally alien people, Chatsworth, Indian township, social activists, apartheid, policy makers

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