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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Split-households: Indian wives, Cape Town husbands and immigration laws, 1900s to 1940s
Author:Dhupelia-Mesthrie, UmaISNI
Periodical:South African Historical Journal (ISSN 1726-1686)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:women migrants
legal status
immigration policy
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/02582473.2014.935800
Abstract:This study of gendered migration from the Indian subcontinent to Cape Town focuses on women who traveled and those who did not. It identifies the split-household as being the dominant household formation in the first half of the twentieth century, a matter of preference of Indian male migrants. Some women also displayed resistance to leaving India. Women nonetheless suffered long periods of separation from husbands; sometimes they were abandoned once men set up alternate households in Cape Town with women of other races and ethnicities. This article also assesses the influence of immigration laws on female mobility. The provision in 1927 that minor children from India had to be accompanied by their mothers led to increased female migration but some women returned to India once the minor was settled. The non-recognition of polygamy in South African immigration law had consequences for women in such marriages. The article shifts focus to women who did travel and highlights bureaucratic hurdles. The final section points to lives made in Cape Town as Indian women drew on village and linguistic networks for support, acquired new skills, contributed to the household economy and to the cultural life of the broader community. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]