The Politics of a South African Frontier: The Griqua, the Sotho-Tswana and the Missionaries, 1780–1840

The influential study 'The Politics of a South African Frontier' analyses the relationship between the Griqua, the Sotho-Tswana and the Missionaries in the time of 1780–1840.
Legassick, Martin Chatfield
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Author: Martin Chatfield Legassick
Publisher: Basler Afrika Bibliographien
Basel, 2010
ISBN 978-3-905758-14-6
Softcover, 17x24 cm, 416 pages, tables, maps, index


This book publishes Martin Legassick’s influential doctoral thesis about the pre-industrial South African frontier zone of Transorangia.

The impressive formation of the Griqua states in the first half of the 19th century outside the borders of the Cape Colony and their relations with Sotho-Tswana polities, white frontiersmen, missionaries and the British administration at the Cape take centre stage in the analysis.

The Griqua, of mixed white and Khoisan descent, secured hegemony in a frontier of complex partnerships and power struggles.

This study, completed in 1969, “remains by far the best account of what is a crucial, and fascinating, episode in Southern African history ... constructed on the impressive basis of documentary and other forms of primary source material”. Robert Ross, University of Leiden

About the author:

Martin Legassick is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape (Cape Town). He has written on almost all periods of South African history, from pre-colonial times to the present day.

He is co-author with Ciraj Rassool of Skeletons in the Cupboard: South African museums and the trade in human remains, 1907–1917 (2000) and is the author of Subjugation and the roots of South African democracy:

The struggle for the Eastern Cape, 1800–1854 (2006) as well as of Towards Socialist democracy (2007), a far-reaching account of the twentieth-century world, of twentieth-century and contemporary South Africa, as a basis for assessing the future.