Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Volz, Stephen


This paper examines Coloured identity in Cape Town, South Africa. It looks specifically at the decades between 1900 and 1948 as a time of transition and change, as Cape Town evolved from a British colonial city to a part of the Afrikaner-led Union of South Africa. ‰ÛColoured‰Û people began to develop as a distinct group of non-Europeans in the Cape in the mid-1800s as a component of colonial Cape society. From 1900 to 1948, this loosely associated collection of non-Europeans began to solidify under a more unified identity. Racially discriminatory policies from the white government helped to establish this separate Coloured identity, as well as a conscious effort by a small group of educated, relatively affluent Coloured intellectuals to construct a definition of what it meant to be ‰ÛÏColoured.‰Û This study identifies three stages in the early development of Coloured identity. From 1900 and 1914, Coloured elites responded to the onslaught of discriminatory legislation surrounding the Union with new political organizations and campaigns to unify Coloureds against the loss of rights. Their defeats in the political arena led to a turn inwards towards social betterment between 1914 and 1930, when Coloured elites advocated for separatist attitudes within the Coloured community. Between 1930 and 1948, new voices within the Coloured community offered a more radical message of protest and resistance to the racial hierarchy, pushing for ideological unity with black Africans, but the effects of separatism and a carefully crafted Coloured identity throughout these decades ensured that most Coloureds continued to think of themselves as fundamentally different from black Africans and Europeans. Still, this study emphasizes the fluidity of Coloured identity throughout the early 1900s, which provides the foundation for Coloured identity today.


Includes bibliographical references (p. 105 -109)

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