From Temporary Urbanites to Permanent City Dwellers? Rural-Urban Labor Migration in Colonial Southern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo

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Abstract

This chapter provides a comparative analysis of when, how, and why rural-urban labor migration patterns in colonial Belgian Congo and Southern Rhodesia shifted in character from largely temporary to more permanent settlement in urban areas. We argue that differences in urban labor stabilization patterns in these two colonies resulted from complex, interlinking factors under two broader categories: Geopolitical conditions and colonial institutions. Specific geopolitical circumstances affected the timing and character of each colony’s industrial take-off and the degree of integration with surrounding territories, impacting upon their respective urban labor markets and migratory flows. Meanwhile, the different contexts of the semi-autonomous settler colony of Southern Rhodesia relative to the more metropolitan-controlled Belgian Congo influenced colonial institutions and social policies with implications for rural and urban opportunity structures. This, in turn, diversely affected the decision-making of African migrants.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMigration in Africa: Shifting Patterns of Mobility from the 19th to the 21st Century
EditorsMichiel De Haas, Ewout Frankema
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter12
Pages256-280
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781003225027
ISBN (Print)9781032125299
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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