Thinking Historically about the “Black Tax”: Gender, Schooling, and Race in Umlazi Township

5 Apr 2017 - 10:45

Event type: 


Date and time: 

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017 - 12:45 to 14:00


Professor Mark Hunter


CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus

Abstract / Description: 

In the 2010s the term “black tax” became widely used to describe the unceasing claims of family members on the incomes of working black South Africans. There are various ways to contextualize the term’s recent use, including examining its connections to the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements. Yet this talk develops a historical viewpoint exploring the contested ways in which money and emotions became attached to formal education—as schooling itself increasingly became necessary to secure employment. Focused on Umlazi in the 1960s, the talk emphasizes gendered family dynamics surrounding schooling in this newly built apartheid township located on the outskirts of Durban. It shows the particular efforts that mothers made to school their children—despite and indeed because of apartheid’s oppressive educational and urban policies. In the face of increasingly insecure intimate relations, a booming economy, and expanded basic education, mothers’ attention to their children’s and grandchildren’s education grew in importance and scale: education required sacrifices but promised children’s eventual support.

Presenter biography: Mark Hunter is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Toronto and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has degrees from the Universities of Sussex (B.A. hons), KwaZulu-Natal (Masters) and University of California-Berkeley (PhD). He is the author of Love in the Time of AIDS: Inequality, Gender, and Rights in South Africa (Indiana and KwaZulu-Natal University Presses) and is currently completing a book on schooling, families and class in Durban.