Changing Childhoods in the Cape Colony: Dutch Reformed Church Evangelicalism and Colonial Childhood, 1860-1895

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S. E. Duff


Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke (2015)



This is the first book to trace the history of childhood and youth in nineteenth-century South Africa. This book examines how childhoods changed during South Africa's industrialisation in the late nineteenth century. Specifically, it considers how the Dutch Reformed Church – the only organisation to evince any sustained interest in colonial childhood – attempted to mould, particularly, white childhoods. The book then traces the colonial state's increasing interest in the education and welfare of white children from the 1870s onwards, positioning this concern within a wider context of debates over poor whiteism and an emergent Afrikaner nationalism. Concluding with a discussion of the 1895 Destitute Children Relief Act, the book suggests that this legislation was the first attempt in the Cape to define precisely who a white child was, and what should constitute a white childhood.Changing Childhoods in the Cape Colony opens up the history of childhood and youth in South African historiography, and contributes new ways of understanding not only the region's industrialisation, but also histories of ideas around race, poor whiteism, and domesticity.

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