David Hemson put the dockworkers of Durban, South Africa’s chief port, on the historical map in a doctoral thesis and some important shorter writing, convincingly demonstrating the organizational capacity and militancy of these migrants from Zululand, Durban’s hinterland. Now Ralph Callebert returns to this scene and reconsiders the historical place of the dockers. While he does not dispute Hemson’s story, he rejects Hemson’s sense of where this militant workforce, “radical and strikeprone” (1), was going. If Hemson saw dockworkers as moving toward a situation where they might possess the proverbial right to the city and take their place as part of a classic proletariat, Callebert positions them, at least prior to 1959 when casualization came to a close and dockworkers were obliged to shift to contracts, as men simply eager to earn the best money possible. The dockworker wanted to use...

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