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Oral history interview with Francis Wilson [electronic resource], 1999

Creator: Wilson, Francis, 1939-
Project: Carnegie Corporation project. Pt. 2.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :transcript: 168 pages transcript: 312 pages video file : digital preservation master, mxf files sound files : digital preservation master, WAV files (96 kHz, 24 bit)
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Labor economist; professor; activist.

Scope and Contents

Background: born 1939 Livingstone, Zambia; childhood Eastern Cape, South Africa, speaking Xhosa, anthropologist parents, progressive attitudes at home; University of Cape Town [UCT]: math and physics, political involvement, student organizations; University of Cambridge: economics and race relations, Student Christian Movement, integrating faith and politics, social segregation; coming to terms with father's death in 1961; University of Virginia one-year scholarship; South African resistance movements in 1960s: military opposition, significant black opposition jailed, dead or in exile; career: return to South Africa, teaching and research job at UCT's School of Economics (1967- ); personal political development: anti-apartheid struggle within South Africa, influence of theological training, implementing creative strategies; research and publishing: oscillating migratory labor system, mines, pass laws, analyzing South African economy beyond national boundaries; establishing the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit [SALDRU]; interaction with Carnegie Corporation of New York [Carnegie]: discussions with Alan Pifer and David Hood, realizing the Second Inquiry on Poverty and Development in Southern Africa [Second Inquiry] (1982-1984), the First Inquiry on Poverty in South Africa, creative interaction and trusting relationship with Carnegie; approach and preparations for Second Inquiry: organization and structure, bibliography, building racially diverse team of researchers, people together, discussions with Mamphela A. Ramphele and Fikile Bam, communicating project and gaining support from the African National Congress [ANC], support from the Ford Foundation for interns and returning scholars at SALDRU, interaction with media, collecting personal stories, confronting reality with fieldwork; goals of study: gather information, raise general consciousness and develop ideas, short versus long-term goals of political liberation; Omar Badsha and photographic contributions to Second Inquiry; poverty in South Africa: water distribution, rural versus urban, different geographical and social realities, unemployment, urbanization, industrialization and generation of poverty in rural areas; Black Consciousness Movement: Stephen Biko, Ramphele; violence and turmoil in 1980s; 1984 conference on Second Inquiry and post-conference publications: Education, from Poverty to Liberty : Report for the Second Carnegie Inquiry into Poverty and Development in Southern Africa, Uprooting Poverty: The South African Challenge; role of organizations for political change; SALDRU and the Project for Statistics and Living Standards in Development: chairman, support from the World Bank and the ANC; challenges facing the post-apartheid government; continued role of philanthropy in South Africa.


Access Conditions

Copyright for session 1 held by The Carnegie Corporation of New York. Copyright for sessions 2-5 held by The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2006.

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