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A murderous split in the black workforce occurred at a South African gold mine on June 16, 1994, weeks after the elections ending apartheid. Two Zulus were killed and many others wounded in a conflict that nearly everyone at the mine, black and white, characterized as "ethnic." Violence in a Time of Liberation shows that heightened ethnic identity among black workers was more an outcome of the conflict than a cause. Based on his reconstruction of the events and the economic, ideological, and political contexts in which they unfolded, Donald L. Donham argues that the violence was not motivated by hatred of an ethnic Other but by tensions surrounding national liberation. In 1993, he had been granted permission to conduct research in a South African gold mine, among both black and white workers. The mine, where Donham arrived in August 1994, turned out to be the one where violence had erupted on June 16. After learning of the conflict, he pored over written accounts of the murders, and he interviewed workers, union organizers, and management officials. He pieced the stories he gathered into the narrative presented in this book. Offering a critical methodology for assessing violence portrayed as "ethnic" or "religious," Donham contends that it does not necessarily result from pre-existing hatred between social groups but rather from a widespread after-the-fact acceptance of ethnicity as an explanation.
Duke University Press
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