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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Love Letters and Amanuenses: Beginning the Cultural History of the Working Class Private Sphere in Southern Africa, 1900-1933
Author:Breckenridge, Keith
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:labour migration
letters (form)
History and Exploration
Abstract:This article deals with letter writing amongst migrant workers on the Witwatersrand in the period 1900-1933. It moves from a consideration of the paradoxical character of literacy amongst migrant workers to a discussion about the history of privacy in South Africa. The vast majority of the letters written from and to the mines were concerned with personal matters. But these deeply affectionate letters were usually authored by skilled amanuenses and commonly read aloud. Working class South Africans have constructed private lives, and individual selves, out of an unusual combination of literary affect and collaborative authorship (and reading). The author suggests that both the field of popular culture and the politics of democracy can be better understood by paying attention to the particular forms of letter correspondence that have developed in South Africa in the 20th century. Notes, ref., sum.