Black Workers, White Farmers in post-colonial Zimbabwe


More than two million people – almost a fifth of the population – live and work on the predominantly white-owned commercial farms in Zimbabwe. Working on the Margins focuses on those working on several tobacco farms in the northern Hurungwe District, and traces their lives from the colonial past to the post-colonial present.

Without demonizing the farmers or romanticizing the workers, it explores the outer margins of post-colonial culture, state and economy, where the legacy of white settler modernity still dominates the everyday lives of a largely neglected population.

The central theoretical approach builds on Foucault’s concept of ‘government’, extending it to the ‘domestic government’ by which farm workers’ lives and livelihoods fall under farm-bound, rather than public, procedures for the allocation of resources and the settlement of disputes.

Addressing the arrangements of power, points of struggle, and strategies of accumulation on commercial farms and in nearby Communal Lands, the author analyses the historical and current dimensions of marginalization of farm workers through state administrative practices of development and farm-based forms of authority, settler paternalism and newly invented patriarchy, and locates strategies for amending traditions of domestic government within existing social practices and social identities.

Working on the Margins: Black Workers, White Farmers in post-colonial Zimbabwe
Blair Rutherford
Weaver Press
Harare

ISBN: 0 7974 2241 2 (Pb)

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