Hidden Histories of Gordonia

Land Dispossession And Resistance In The Northern Cape, 1800-1990

436 pages

April, 2016

ISBN: 9781868149544

$35

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Author

Martin Legassick (1940–2016) was Emeritus Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape. A historian, activist and author, his publications include The Struggle for the Eastern Cape, 1800–1854: Subjugation and the roots of South African democracy (2011) and The Politics of a South African frontier: The Griqua, the Sotho-Tswana and the missionaries, 1780–1840 (2010).

Accounts of family histories, resistance to colonisation, and the imposition of racial segregation and land dispossession in the Gordonia region of the Northern Cape. 

The Gordonia region of the Northern Cape province has received relatively little attention from historians. In Hidden Histories of Gordonia: Land dispossession and resistance in the Northern Cape, 1800_1990, Martin Legassick explores aspects of the generally unknown 'brown' and 'black' history of the region. Emphasising the lives of ordinary people, his writing is also in part an exercise in 'applied history'- historical writing with a direct application to people's lives in the present. Tracing the indigenous history of Gordonia as well as the northward movement of Basters and whites from the western Cape through Bushmanland to the Orange River, the book presents accounts of family histories, episodes of indigenous resistance to colonisation, and studies of the ultimate imposition of racial segregation and land dispossession on the inhabitants of the region. A recurrent theme is the question of identity and how the extreme ethnic fluidity and social mixing apparent in earlier times crystallised in the colonial period into racial identities, until with final conquest came imposed racial classification.