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Department of Historical and Heritage Studies Seminar: "The Zimbabwean 'land question' and its symbolic meanings"

Department of Historical and Heritage Studies, Room 18-26, Humanities Building, Hatfield Campus
12:00 to 13:00
The seminar will be presented by Dr Tinashe Mawere. Dr Mawere is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies and the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender (CSA&G).


Land, in its physical and symbolic sense has to a great extent, been galvanized in order to create national consciousness and consequently, craft nationalism in Southern Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular where, since the 2000s, dominant nationalist discourses have shown an increasing emphasis on land as foundational to reform and national sovereignty. Land has become one of the state's and ZANU-PF's most effective instruments to whip up emotions in line with Zimbabwe's 'patriotic' history. This followed 'threats' to the ZANU-PF hegemony posed by the MDC party, which the ruling ZANU-PF has labelled a Western pawn against national sovereignty. The 'reforms' and 'protection' associated with land/nation increasingly became mythically coded and ascribed to the long-standing view characterizing land/nation as feminine and needing the affective jealousy protection of masculinity. To this extent, discourses of land/nation have 'rehearsed' discourses of gender and sexuality and vice versa. This paper (re)examines Zimbabwe's post-2000 land question focusing on its (re)imaginations in dominant nationalist discourses. I make a discursive analysis of popular cultural texts to show the gendered and sexualised discourses that have increasingly become associated with Zimbabwe's national 'reforms' and 'protection'. I argue that the protection and sanctity imaginations of land/nation have been associated with its purity and its capacity for healthy (re)production that ensures abundance, growth, purity and 'naturalised' identities. Nevertheless, I reveal the disobedient messaging inherent in the same texts, exposing the fluidity of symbols and symbolic meanings. The paper contributes to our understanding of the complexities of the Zimbabwean land question, the ways in which gendered and sexualized identities are created and naturalized as well as the (re)imaginations of Zimbabwean citizenship and belonging.  

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