The Racialising Process: Whites Writing Whiteness in Letters, South Africa 1770s-1970s

The Racialising Process: Whites Writing Whiteness in Letters, South Africa 1770s-1970s

The Racialising Process

It’s very pleasing to report that the paperback of The Racialising Process is now completed and available for purchase from Amazon. It is over 280 pages long and contains many letters and related documents that are discussed in detail, complete with photographs of them. Its list of chapters is shown below.

What it’s about: three main things. It is concerned with how it happened that South Africa developed the racial order that it did and how this changed over the period from the 1770s to the 1970s. It is concerned with theorising letters, over 50,000 letters, and using this to show the importance of letter-writing for understanding how white people saw and represented their lives and Other people ‘back then’ because acting as an index of wider changes occurring. And it is concerned with engaging with, using and where needed departing from, the theoretical and methodological ideas put forward by Norbert Elias for understanding change in Europe and making these work as a way of thinking about South Africa and its racialising process.

Please buy!

The Racialising Process is a full-scale academic book which brings together theory, analysis and interpretation of the vast amount of Whites Writing Whiteness letters. It results from a major ESRC funded project. It has been read and commented on by two academic colleagues and their feedback used in producing the final manuscript. It has been copy-edited and proof-read. It has all the usual guarantees of quality.

The Racialising Process costs just £5.99, and similar amounts in whatever is the prevailing currency in ‘local’ bits of Amazon. The price is as low as possible, producing just 1p author-royalty per book in £Br – the rest of the small cost is what Amazon charges for publishing and printing this large book with many pages and photographs.

The Racialising Process is available at a low price because there are no academic publishers involved, so it will be possible for people in South Africa to afford it, not to mention that students and others without much money everywhere will be able to buy it. Amazon will still make money from the amount they charge, which tells us a good deal about academic publishing profits. That is, a book of this length would cost around £80-90 from an academic publisher and only be available in hardback.

An e-book version will be available shortly (how shortly depends on whether the conversion process will be smooth or rocky). Hopefully this will be free or as close to it as possible. My own preference is for ‘real books’ although I buy e-books as well, which is why they have been produced in this order. STOP PRESS 9pm Thurs 1 June – now available as the e-book.

Feedback on The Racialising Process is most welcome, just email ( It would also be great if people could write short reviews and post them on the Amazon website.


  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Whites Writing, Letters & Social Change
  • Chapter 2. Doing the Archival Research: Groundwork, Regarding Paton, Shepstone & Nomalanga’s Baby
  • Chapter 3. Figurational Analysis: On the LMS, Findlay, Price, Rhodes & Other Collections
  • Chapter 4. Traces Remaining: Anna’s Indentures, the Hemmings & Nannie, & Mark Pringle’s Diary
  • Chapter 5. On Categories: Gottlob Schreiner & ‘the Hand of the Lord’, CR Prance & ‘Inferior Blood’
  • Chapter 6. Events, Including Soweto, Marikana & the Lovedale Riot
  • Chapter 7. Rough Workings: Scribblings, Including Bessie Price’s Wagon Wheel & a Panikin Filled to the Brim
  • Chapter 8. Theorising Letters, Including About ‘the Boy’, ‘the Coolie’ & the ‘N Word’
  • Chapter 9. Regulation, the Contract & the Pass: ‘The Bearers 2 Kafirs With Parcels’
  • Chapter 10. Analysing the Racialising Process
  • Appendices A. Archives; B. Collections; C. Toolkit; D. The Hub


Fittingly, the font used for the book’s cover is called Ubuntu. A person is a person through other people, with Elias’s ‘I/We’ concept of individuality as interdependence echoing this.

Last updated: 1 June 2017


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