A unique overview of the whole 350-year history of South Africa's racial order, from the mid-seventeenth century to the apartheid era. Maylam periodizes this racial order, drawing out its main phases and highlighting the significant turning points. He also analyzes the dynamics of South African white racism, exploring the key forces and factors that brought about and perpetuated oppressive, discriminatory policies, practices, structures, laws and attitudes. There is also a strong historiographical dimension to the study. It shows how various writers have, from different perspectives, attempted to explain the South African racial order and draws out the political and ideological agendas that lay beneath these diverse interpretations. Essential reading for all those interested in the past, present and future of South Africa, this book also has implications for the wider study of race, racism and social and political ethnic relations.