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From Enslavement to Environmentalism

Politics on a Southern African Frontier

By David McDermott Hughes

Publication Year: 2008

Published by: University of Washington Press

Series: Culture, Place, and Nature

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

Linguistic Conventions

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

In 1995, during my first fortnight in Vhimba, Elias Nyamunda showed me his map of households and administrative divisions. The map did not surprise me. After all, Elias walked regularly up and down the escarpment of this remote area of Zimbabwe, performing his duties as an officer of two local committees. …

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pp. xv-xviii

This book grew from the applied academic scene of Harare in the 1990s —a remarkable time and place where social scientists and policymakers collaborated, debated, and learned from one another. This ferment drew together scholars of the University of Zimbabwe — particularly of the Centre for Applied Social Sciences …

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Introduction: Power on African Frontiers

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pp. 3-18

The term frontier means two things, both of them strikingly political. The frontier is a zone, a hinterland, lying outside the spatial core of a society but within grasp of adventurers and colonists. Frontiers also bound and demarcate national, sovereign territories (Kopytoff 1987:9; Worby 1998a:55-56). …

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Part 1: Colonization, Failed and Successful

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pp. 19-21

The two chapters that comprise part 1 do not attempt to recount the colonial histories of Vhimba and Gogoi. Neither of these places has experienced a" colonial period" of the sort usually imagined: a tight three-quarter-century of European control capped by African self-rule of one kind or another. ...

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Chapter 1: Compulsory Labor and Unclaimed Land in Gogoi, Mozambique, 1862-1992

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pp. 22-44

Gogoi's documented history comprises two periods of warfare bounding ninety-odd years of peace. From 1862 to 1889, the Gaza Nguni empire ruled the area, subjected it to tribute, and raided neighboring polities. From 1979 to 1992, Renamo and Frelimo contested Gogoi, alternately occupying and attacking it. …

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Chapter 2: From Citizenship to Land-Grabbing in Vhimba, Zimbabwe, 1893-1990

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pp. 45-74

Cadastral politics are not intrinsic to Vhimba. People made Vhimba into the hornet's nest of turf battles that it is today. As much as events and processes maintained forced labor in Gogoi, Mozambique, a quite different historical sequence institutionalized cadastral politics on the northern bank of the Rusitu River. …

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Part 2: The Border

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pp. 75-77

The rest of this study addresses contemporary sodal processes in Vhimba and Gogoi. The data derive principally from my ethnography carried out in those two areas between 1995 and 1997. Much of that ethnography centered on the importance of the Zimbabwe — Mozambique border, a frontier in the linear sense. ...

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Chapter 3: Refugees, Squatters, and the Politics of Land Allocation in Vhimba

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pp. 78-97

In Vhimba, the border delimited in 1898 became important in local social relations within little more than a generation.1 As a bizarre case of arson reveals, the borderland nurtured its own form of transnational parochialism. In 1929, a Vhimba woman testified before the magistrate, …

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Chapter 4: Community Forestry as Land-Grabbing in Vhimba

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pp. 98-121

Much of what currently passes for "development" in rural Zimbabwe is, in fact, cadastral struggle by other means. Cadastral struggle, of course, has a much longer history than development in the modern sense. To recap chapter 2, white settlers and their government alienated 58 percent of the area of what became Zimbabwe.1 ...

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Chapter 5: Expatriate Loggers and Mapmakers in Gogoi

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pp. 122-146

In the mid-1990s. The locus of political contestation in Gogoi began to shift from labor to land. Chief Gogoi and his headmen started to "territorialize" their rule (see Introduction), In many ways, this transformation resembles the onset of cadastral politics a hundred years earlier in nearby Vhimba. ...

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Part 3: Native Questions

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pp. 147-149

Upon independence, University of Zimbabwe faculty virtually banned the use of the term native in undergraduate writing. A Rhodesian official term for black African, it recalled the country's experience of racism and discrimination. History students were required to quarantine the offensive word within quotation marks. ...

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Chapter 6: Open Native Reserves or None?

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pp. 150-185

On the Zimbabwe — Mozambique border, the existence and function of native reserves hang in the balance. They now appear to be obstructing economic development. It was not always so. A hundred or even fifty years ago, the policy of reserves removed moral and economic impediments to colonization ...

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Chapter 7: In Conclusion, Three Liberal Projects Reassessed

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pp. 186-200

I arrived on the Zimbabwe — Mozambique border at a time of high hopes. A century after the Moodie treks, postemancipation, postcolonial states-bolstered by liberal-minded donors and NGos — controlled both banks of the Rusitu. Surely, these well-meaning people and institutions would prevent a second colonization of Chief Ngorima's territory. ...


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pp. 201-202


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pp. 203-240


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pp. 241-272


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pp. 273-285

E-ISBN-13: 9780295800516
E-ISBN-10: 0295800518
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295985909
Print-ISBN-10: 0295985909

Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Culture, Place, and Nature

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Land use -- Zimbabwe -- Vhimba -- History.
  • Land tenure -- Zimbabwe -- Vhimba -- History.
  • Land use -- Mozambique -- Gogói -- History.
  • Land tenure -- Mozambique -- Gogói -- History.
  • Vhimba (Zimbabwe) -- Colonization.
  • Gogói (Mozambique) -- Colonization.
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