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‘To define the indefinable’: population classification and the census in South Africa

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The population of many countries, including South Africa, has been classified into discrete groups from colonial times until the present day, for purposes of census enumeration. A reading of the census results requires an understanding of the subtleties and shifts of the classification system, which were frequently related to a definition of legal and political rights, including place of residence. The national census has tended to reinforce the groups it was initially meant only to observe.

Keywords: South Africa; apartheid; census; identity; population; race classification

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Publication date: 2002-12-01

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