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The Missing People: Accounting for Indigenous Populations in Cape Colonial History

Johan Fourie and Erik Green
Publication date
March 2014

Because information about the livelihoods of indigenous groups is often missing from colonial records, their presence usually escapes attention in quantitative estimates of colonial economic activity. This is nowhere more apparent than in the eighteenth-century Dutch Cape Colony, where the role of the Khoesan in Cape production, despite being frequently acknowledged, has been almost completely ignored in quantitative investigations. Combining household-level settler data with anecdotal accounts of Khoesan labour, this paper explores the effect of including Khoesan farm labour estimates in earlier calculations of slave productivity, societal inequality, and GDP growth in the Dutch East India Company period.

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Series title
Working Paper 425
The Journal of African History