Life in a South African household, 1909 - 1923 : changing patterns in leisure and servitude

Van der Waag, Ian (2011-06)

Author Posting. (c) 'South African Sociological Association', 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of 'Copyright Holder' for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in South African Review of Sociology, Volume 42 Issue 2, June 2011. doi:10.1080/21528586.2011.582343 (


Domestic history in South Africa is largely an unploughed field. Yet, for much of South Africa’s past, households were the places where concerns about class, gender and race intersected, at a very close, personal, level. Moreover, it was in the residences of the power elite that the contradictions between the ideas of a migrant aristocracy, notions of empire, and the practical needs for the maintenance of an ostentatious lifestyle, are revealed. In this paper, I use one elite household in Johannesburg (1909-1923) as a lens through which to explore a variety of these domestic experiences and expose the nexus between race, class and empire in South African domestic history at the turn of the twentieth century and so further develop ideas first advanced in my article in the Journal of Family History (2007).

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