‘To Control Their Destiny’: The Politics of Home and the Feminisation of Schooling in Colonial Natal, 1885–1910

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‘To Control Their Destiny’: The Politics of Home and the Feminisation of Schooling in Colonial Natal, 1885–1910

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Title: ‘To Control Their Destiny’: The Politics of Home and the Feminisation of Schooling in Colonial Natal, 1885–1910
Author: Healy-Clancy, Meghan Elisabeth
Citation: Healy, Meghan Elisabeth. 2011. ‘To control their destiny’: the politics of home and the feminisation of schooling in colonial Natal, 1885–1910. Journal of Southern African Studies 37(2): 247-264.
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Abstract: This article examines the contradictions that African girls' schooling presented for colonial governance in Natal, through the case study of Inanda Seminary, the region's first and largest all-female school for Africans. While patriarchal colonial law circumscribed the educational options of girls whose fathers opposed their schooling, the head of Natal's nascent educational bureaucracy argued that African girls' education in Western domesticity would be essential in creating different sorts of families with different sorts of needs. In monogamous families, Native Schools Inspector Robert Plant argued, husbands and sons would be taught to ‘want’ enough to impel them to labour for wages – but they would also be sufficiently satisfied by their domestic comforts to avoid political unrest. Thus, even as colonial educational officials clamped down on African boys' curricula – attempting to restrict their schooling to the barest preparation for unskilled wage labour – they allowed missionaries autonomy to educate young women whose fathers did not challenge their school attendance. This was because young women's role in the social reproduction of new sorts of families made their education ultimately appear to be a benefit to colonial governance. As young men pursued wage labour, young women began to comprise the majority of African students, laying the groundwork for the feminisation of schooling in modern southern Africa.
Published Version: doi:10.1080/03057070.2011.579439
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:34721971
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