New Babylon, New Nineveh: Everyday Life on the Witwatersrand 1886-1914

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Jonathan Ball, 2001 - Business & Economics - 487 pages
Available for the first time in one volume, this book explores the Past struggles of everyday people on the Witwatersrand, 1886-1914. This was a period of extraordinary social, political and economic change. Charles van Onselen explores a host of practices, processes and problems which, in many ways, make for startling comparisons with modern-clay South Africa. "New Babylon" and "New Nineveh" were originally published in London in 1982. They contain a brief exploration of mining enterprise on the Rand at that time, which sets the scene for eight essays that cover diverse aspects of the unpredictable and fascinating social developments that accompanied industrialisation and urbanisation in the years leading up to the First World War. Van Onselen investigates the pervasive, but highly problematic use of alcohol and prostitution, which were used to control both Black and White mine workers, by the state and the mine owners. He also explains that the direct consequence of this was the emergence of powerful east European criminal syndicates, who brought in women to work in the taverns and brothels that were numerous at the time. This exploitation of the lifestyle of the single miners later gave way to the official encouragement of working-class family life. This gave rise to the advent of domestic servants and the introduction of a systematic programme of sub-urbanisation and cheap public transport. We see how not even these developments were able to protect the poorest and weakest South Africans of the time -- the Afrikaners and the Blacks. Van Onselen explains how Afrikaner unemployment and an affinity for trade unionism were paralleled by further marginalisation, black unemployment and the resultant formation of prison gangs, which flourish even to the present day.

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The world the mine owners made
Randlords and rotgut 18861903
Prostitutes and proletarians 18861914

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