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Colonialism and Violence in Zimbabwe

Colonialism and Violence in Zimbabwe: A History of Suffering

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Colonialism and Violence in Zimbabwe
    Book Description:

    Suffering, the experience of violation brought on by an act of violence or violent circumstances, is omnipresent in today's world - if only indirectly through global media representation. Despite this apparent immediacy, understanding how a person makes sense of his or her suffering tends to be fragmentary and often elusive. This book examines this key question through the lens of rural Zimbabwe and a frontier area on the border with Mozambique. It shows how African women, men, and children fashioned their life-worlds in the face of conflict. Historian Heike Schmidt challenges the apparently inseparable twin pairing of Africa and suffering. Even in situations of great distress, she argues, individuals and groups may articulate their social desires and political ambitions, and reforge their identities - as long as the experience of violence is not one of sheer terror. She emphasizes the crucial role women, chiefs, and youths played in the renegotiation of a sense of belonging during different periods of time. Based on sustained fieldwork, 'Colonialism and Violence' offers a compelling history of suffering in a small valley in Zimbabwe over the course of 150 years. Heike Schmidt is a Research Associate at the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-119-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. List of Acronyms
    (pp. x-xi)
  5. Glossary
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiv-xv)
  7. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-31)

    Probably the most famous work of art portraying suffering and violence is Picasso’s painting Guernica (1937). Many readings of this painting are possible; one would be that in the face of utter destruction, Guernica depicts an affirmation of personhood.¹ This is the leitmotif of this book. It is the voice breaking the silence of violation, without romanticising it or assuming its authenticity that this book is listening out for. The purpose of this study is to examine historical phenomena such as colonialism, nationalism, and decolonisation, with the human condition as the starting point of the historical examination, not its by-product...

  8. 2 Living on the Frontier Opportunity & Danger
    (pp. 33-75)

    An elder, when asked about the history of the Honde Valley, first related his genealogy and family history.¹ Then he went on to say that ‘Long back, this country was a vast area, with no boundaries. Borders were set up after the arrival of the Portuguese and, er … and Cecil Rhodes. That was when they limited movement of people …. [Previously] people settled freely.’² The creation of the border between Rhodesia and Portuguese East Africa contributed significantly to the making of the valley as a frontier area. However, it did not impose as much of a rupture as the...

  9. 3 Pioneers & Modernisers Landscapes of Violence
    (pp. 76-115)

    The Honde Valley has served to newcomers as a canvas upon which they project their notions of wilderness and alterity. This chapter is concerned with immigrants whose imaginations of landscape and self-perceived roles as pioneers and modernisers significantly shaped their lives in the valley and through their interactions those of the valley inhabitants. In her study of the eighteenth-century Caribbean, Jill Casid examined a period when imperial landscape imaginations and notions of alterity prevailed, even though the projects of modernity and modernisation had not yet shaped land-use practices as they did later in colonial Africa. Still, her findings are pertinent....

  10. 4 The Frontier Society under Threat Politicisation & Militancy
    (pp. 116-150)

    Rural grievances resulting from colonial policies and interventions have been a major theme in African Studies for some time and are well-documented in the case of Zimbabwe. Still, an approach that differentiates which state actions were tolerated from those that caused suffering, and for whom, and how such experiences affected the politisation of the rural population is pertinent. The previous chapter showed that colonial land alienation caused great suffering among the so-called ‘highveld Manyika’, while Chief Zindi and his followers endured the establishment of the tea plantations. This chapter traces politicisation from the mid-1950s, when the settler state began to...

  11. 5 War Rages Hot Insurgency & Counter-insurgency
    (pp. 151-210)

    The Second Chimurenga, Zimbabwe’s liberation war of the 1970s, is a prime example of guerrilla warfare, both of how it was fought by each side and how it affected the non-combatant population. This chapter examines these questions in unprecedented detail and in so doing addresses major queries that have been at the core of debate since the end of the Cold War, namely: What is political violence and how is it enacted, and how can a state legitimately counter insurgent violence? Eric Hobsbawm’s challenge to the historical study of nationalism, to examine the phenomenon from both above and below, provides...

  12. 6 After Violence Healing the Wounds of War
    (pp. 211-244)

    The Second Chimurenga came to an end with a negotiated ceasefire period that lasted from 28 December 1979 to 4 January 1980, followed by the first democratic elections in Zimbabwe in February 1980. Under the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, the 100 parliamentary seats were divided as follows: 20 for a white electoral roll, all of which went to the Rhodesian Front, the former ruling party, and 80 for the common roll. These seats were distributed as follows: ZANU(PF), under the leadership of Robert Mugabe, won 57 (63 per cent), all in their operational areas during the Chimurenga, with the...

  13. 7 Epilogue Violence That Does Not Haunt
    (pp. 245-250)

    This book calls for a re-examination of the concept of violence by accommodating its ambiguity in a complex understanding of the past. It investigates how those who suffer violence invest experiences of violation with meaning and thus accommodate them in their lives. Such accommodation is not merely a coping strategy or a simple overcoming of a harrowing past. Instead, healing refers to the re-articulation of self and the promise of social harmony in the face of a fractured sense of being and belonging. The three main threads running through the study – violence, memory, and landscape – lead to general...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-276)
  15. Index
    (pp. 277-288)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 289-289)