An original and exciting work of comparative history, this book analyses the origins of segregation as a specific stage in the evolution of white supremacy in South Africa and the American South. Unlike scholars who have attributed twentieth-century patterns of race relations to the continuation of earlier social norms and attitudes, Cell understands segregation as a distinct system and ideology of race and class division, closely associated with urbanisation, industrialisation, and modern processes of state and party formation. Originally advocated by moderates and liberals, rather than by racist fanatic with whom it later came to be identified, segregation became comparatively sophisticated, flexible, and absorptive. In its ambiguities even advocates of black power could sometimes find a basis for collaboration.
'This is an extremely valuable investigation which should command the attention of scholars of both the United States and Africa, as well as those who desire an expert introduction to current debates concerning the complex interrelation of race and class in these societies. Cell's account of the existing literature and its limitations is provocative and his own analysis often highly original.' Eric Foner, Columbia University 'John Cell's work shows how much American historians, often given to exceptionalist arguments about the uniqueness of the American experience, can benefit from the insights of those who approach American historiography with the tools of other, equally complex, and less well-mined fields.' Robin W. Winks, Yale University 'John Cell's book is a sophisticated and provocative study of the history and historiography of racial segregation in South Africa and the United States. Some of his conclusions will be controversial, but he has clearly advanced the discussion of comparative white supremacy to a higher stage.' George M. Fredrickson, Northwestern University