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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Cotton as calamitous commodity: the politics of agricultural failure in Natal and Zululand, 1844-1933
Author:Schnurr, Matthew A.
Year:2013
Periodical:Canadian Journal of African Studies (ISSN 0008-3968)
Volume:47
Issue:1
Pages:115-132
Language:English
Geographic terms:South Africa
Natal
Zululand
Subjects:cotton
agricultural history
Link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00083968.2013.771423
Abstract:This article follows the efforts of white settlers to impose cotton as an export crop in Natal and Zululand, South Africa. Touted as a commodity capable of remaking land and life in the region in the 1850s, the 1860s, and again in the 1910s and 1920s, cotton never achieved more than marginal status in the region's agricultural economy. Its story is one of historical amnesia: although faith in the region's cotton prospects dipped following each spectacular failure, it was routinely resurrected once previous failures had been accounted for, or memories of them had faded. Two crucial issues are at the centre of this episodic history. First, the author explores the logistics of planned expansion, and the reasons for the repeated collapse of cotton-growing schemes. Second, he unravels the side effects of these difficult and disappointing efforts and argues that, despite repeated failure, cotton facilitated important structural changes to the region's agricultural, political and economic landscape. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]
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