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Racial formations: South Africa.

Mueller-Hirth, Natascha



Patrick L. Mason


South Africa became a democratic, non-racial state in 1994. The first democratic elections were preceded by fifty years of legislated racial domination. Apartheid (separateness in Afrikaans) involved racial segregation in every aspect of social and political life, from amenities to education, residential areas and marital life. Yet Apartheid built on the foundations laid by previous segregationist regimes. Indeed, ideologies of separate development informed British colonial policy at the end of the 19th century, with the Lagden Commission of 1905 recommending the formal separation of the races and the creation of race-based urban locations. States are essential in constituting race identities and the Apartheid regime sought to divide the population into four racial groups: African, Coloured, Indian (Asian) and White. These racial classifications continue to shape identities, everyday life and policy-making, for example in relation to affirmative action policies. There are particular challenges associated with implementing Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) legislation in the context of an diverse population that was differently and unevenly affected by racial oppression. Race identities were also formed and challenged through resistance to Apartheid rule, such as in the Black Consciousness Movement or the philosophy of non-racialism.


MUELLER-HIRTH, N. 2013. Racial formations: South Africa. In Mason, P.L. (ed.) Encyclopedia of race and racism. Second edition. Andover: Cengage, volume 3.

Publication Date Feb 15, 2013
Deposit Date Jul 2, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jul 2, 2018
Publisher Cengage
Edition Second edition
Book Title Encyclopedia of race and racism
Keywords South Africa; Apartheid; Racial segregation; British colonial policy
Public URL


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