History of New Brighton Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 1903-1953

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This is the history of the first fifty years of Port Elizabeth’s ‘shadow’ and oldest existing township, New Brighton. Part One outlines the economic, demographic and political context for understanding the City Council’s policies toward its African population. Part Two examines the establishment, financing, administration and control of New Brighton by local officialdom. Part Three fleshes out the social, cultural and political history of the New Brighton community, exploring social identities and practices, including church involvement and sports and leisure activities. It examines the high levels of political activism in the community, and accounts for the increase in violent behavior. The study is based on documentary as well as oral evidence. It moves beyond the political economy paradigm to incorporate insights from anthropology, cultural studies, and discourse analysis. With illustrations.


“Gary Baines has produced a richly detailed case-study of a black South African township. The book successfully balances macro- and micro-history. It shows how broader economic and political forces impinged upon the lives of township-dwellers in Port Elizabeth, the city known as the ‘Detroit of South Africa’ ... effectively highlights some of the key elements of urban cultural life – the church, music, and sport ... also offers insight into the shifting sands of local politics, bringing to the fore the strategies and activities of the ANC in one of its eastern Cape strongholds ... an invaluable contribution to the urban historiography of South Africa.” – Professor Paul Maylam, Rhodes University

“ ... excellent and nuanced study of Port Elizabeth’s African community ... excavated here by one of South Africa’s foremost historians. Baines draws on a range of engaging sources: interviews with key figures from Port Elizabeth’s turbulent political past; the peculiarly detailed official documents which recorded the everyday violence of the apartheid state; and, unusually for urban historians, an appealing use of popular culture, including the paintings of George Pemba, songs, films, poems and images ... This is a book for everyone who has an interest in understanding the place of Port Elizabeth in South Africa’s history of urban repression and popular resistance ... readable and meticulously researched text.” - Professor Jennifer Robinson, Open University, Milton-on-Keynes, United Kingdom

" ... [This is] a meticulous investigation into the history of an African township, the brainchild of segregationist racial thinking in the first half of the twentieth century. Particularly praiseworthy is the fact that [Dr. Baines] was able to investigate themes of interest to contemporary historians, such as the African struggle against the oppressive policies of a racially oriented government ... This is a good study and will be of particular interest to urban historians and historians of the Eastern Cape." - KLEIO A Journal of Historical Studies from Africa

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