During the year 1820, roughly 5,000 Britons descended on what is today the Republic of South Africa to seize land and spread their ‘civilizing’ influence to the Xhosa natives. Among these early settlers were numerous daughters, mothers, and wives. What function did these oft-overlooked women play in the British colonizing scheme?
Rarely in examinations of Great Britain and colonization is the role of women as colonial agents acknowledged. One postgraduate World History & Cultures student at King’s College London has endeavored to rectify this through her research on women and the white settler identity. On this episode of History, Bitches I chat with my classmate Becca about how white South African women helped cultivate and disseminate ideas of cultural and racial superiority.
You can read Becca’s paper here:
Settler Women and the White Colonial Identity on the Cape Colony’s Eastern Frontier, 1820-1870
During her research Becca used primary sources like memoirs. Check-out British settler Martha Jane Kirk’s memoir’s here:
Memoirs of Grannie (Kirk) Blake 1823 to 1906, as told to her Granddaughter, Helen Rosa Moroney (nee Kirk)
For further reading, Becca recommends Alan Lester’s ‘Imperial Networks: Creating Identities in Nineteenth-Century South Africa and Britain’
The History Bitch
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